NBA Free Agency 2012: Will Deron Williams Follow Tim Duncan's Loyalty to Team?

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2016

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 30:  Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Deron Williams and Tim Duncan are both going to be unrestricted free agents this summer, and both stars will serve as marquee names at their position to lead a solid 2012 NBA class.

Duncan has already said that he's going to be a "Spur for life," so we know what to expect from "The Big Fundamental." As someone who has played his entire career in San Antonio and had the fortune of winning four titles, it would be rather strange to see Duncan donning a different uniform.

Duncan is loyal to Gregg Popovich, loyal to the San Antonio organization and arguably most importantly of all, he's loyal to his teammates. Duncan isn't the type of player who says one thing and does another—he's never been that way in his career, and he's not going to suddenly change his ways.

However, Williams is a different story. D-Will has made it clear since early April that he intends to test free agency. He was not drafted by the Nets, had no say in his trade out of Utah and has never had the ability to sign with a team of his choosing.

There was no reading between the lines to arrive at this conclusion. Williams told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports that he's not playing the loyalty card.

They don’t get backlash as an organization. If [players] leave, we are not loyal, we are ungrateful. People say stuff to me on Twitter. They already think I’m gone. They are out there bashing me, saying to me I’m a traitor.

I didn’t ask to be here. I got traded. I didn’t come here being a free agent. This is the first time that I’m a free agent in my career.

We can probably forget about Williams pursuing the same avenue as Duncan. Even if the prized point guard does wind up re-signing with the Nets as the team gears up for its move to Brooklyn, it's not going to be because of any sort of loyalty. Williams wants to put himself in the best position to find sustained success in the league.

Again, from Spears:

I want to win. At the end of the day, I’m not getting any younger. I’ll be 28 when I sign this next deal. I have to look for the best situation for me.

The best part of the story? Nets general manager Billy King stating that Williams calls himself "the assistant GM." Maybe King was joking, but maybe he wasn't. There's no doubt that the Nets have made and will continue to make D-Will an integral part of the process in anything the team does.

But will that be enough to keep him in the fold?

It's going to take more than just a good vision for the future, because we can effectively count against Williams feeling any sort of "loyalty" to a team that traded for his services.

Frankly, I don't blame Williams one iota. He doesn't owe anything to anyone.

Unfortunately for Nets fans, they may feel differently and could be very disappointed if he decides his long-term future is outside of the Tri-State area.