Deron Williams is without question the prize free agent on this year's market. There are three teams vying for his services, although, according to Marc Stein of ESPN, there are really only two teams that he is interested in: Dallas and Brooklyn.
When NBA free agency begins at midnight July 1, Brooklyn Nets star guard Deron Williams will be choosing from a two-team list that only features the Nets and the Dallas Mavericks, according to sources close to the situation.
We'll keep you up to date right here as the news regarding Williams' free agency progresses.
UPDATE: Wednesday, July 11 -- Eric Ball
The Nets have officially locked up superstar guard Deron Williams, and decided to do it in a rather odd venue as first reported by Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
Deron Williams is with Nets GM Billy King in Las Vegas, signing his five-year, $98.75 million deal as we tweet, source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 11, 2012
Williams is in it for the long haul, but ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that Williams does have the opportunity to opt-out of the deal after the fourth year.
- Content for this update provided by Bleacher Report's Top Free Agents offseason tracker.
UPDATE 3: Tuesday, July 3—Ethan Norof
Deron Williams announced on his official Twitter page that he will be re-signing with the Brooklyn Nets.
Made a very tough decision today.... lockerz.com/s/222071318— Deron Williams (@DeronWilliams) July 3, 2012
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported just seconds later that Williams had reached a five-year, $100 million contract agreement with the Nets.
Deron Williams has reached agreement on a 5 year, $100 million extension with Brooklyn, a league source tells Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 3, 2012
The sound you hear is Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks going back to the drawing board after misfiring on a calculated gamble.
UPDATE 2: Tuesday, July 3 -- Joel C. Cordes
As trade rumors swirl around Dwight Howard and the Brooklyn Nets, Deron Williams continues to take things in stride:
Source: Deron Williams is working out at the Nets practice facility right now.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 3, 2012
Though he's a free agent, Williams remains in Brooklyn for the moment. He has to be impressed with all the waves made for him so far: The Nets have already acquired Joe Johnson and continue to push hard for Dwight Howard (details below).
However, it also appears that we'll have to wait a bit for the next domino to fall. Still, Monday's trade with the Atlanta Hawks came out of relative nowhere, and this story continues to develop...
UPDATE: Tuesday, July 3 -- Joel C. Cordes
With the Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson trade consummated, there was much talk that Dwight Howard would be unable to join Deron Williams and Co. due to salary cap constraints.
Many began to speculate that the Nets were already moving off of Howard and the Orlando Magic's radar:
Source: With Nets out of equation, Mavs go to top of Dwight Howard's wish list. No other teams - Lakers included - on it. For now.— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) July 2, 2012
However, as discussed yesterday, a creative sign-and-trade was still possible if Brooklyn could retain their most attractive free agents for the swap. It appears that proposals for such a deal are in the works as we speak:
Sources: The Nets & Magic are discussing a trade that would send Dwight Howard to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks...— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 3, 2012
However, the Magic are apparently also interested in multiple first-round draft picks from the Nets, and this may be prompting Brooklyn GM Billy King to search for other ways to sweeten the pot.
This appears especially necessary, since Kris Humphries would be involved with the deal, but the Magic already have productive Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis at the power forward position. Humphries has proven in back-to-back years that he can be a double-double threat, and the rebounding machine is sure to garner some interest at the right price:
For Nets-Magic to progress on a Dwight Howard deal, a 3rd team needed to take Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade, league source tells Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 3, 2012
With closure apparently on the horizon, the Magic continue to turn the screws with all previously interested parties:
Orlando GM Rob Hennigan also trying to engage the Hawks, Rockets, Lakers and possibly Mavs in Howard talks. Full-court press.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 3, 2012
The message by the Magic appears to be, "Make us an offer now, or risking losing Dwight Howard completely." Yet Magic Insider Brian K. Schmitz is convinced that Orlando isn't interested in a quick timetable at all.
Stay tuned as this developing story unfolds.
(This report provided by Bleacher Report's Dwight Howard Offseason Tracker)
BREAKING NEWS: Monday, July 2 -- Joel C. Cordes
The first domino appears to be falling, as the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets are about to finalize a trade involving Joe Johnson:
Nets would send Jordan Williams, Petro, Farmar, Morrow and a sign-and-trade of Stevenson for Joe Johnson, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2012
The Nets' bold play is obviously meant to retain Deron Williams and lure Dwight Howard, but Brooklyn management also seems ready for this deal regardless of what happens next:
Source indicated earlier that the Nets would proceed with JJ deal whether or not they get commitment from Deron Williams to stay w/Brooklyn.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 2, 2012
However, adding Joe Johnson and Deron Williams means that the Nets would not have the cap space to sign Howard outright:
If Hawks-Nets deal goes through, Nets are no longer in race for Dwight Howard. Cap room for D12 will be gone.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 2, 2012
The Nets may instead opt to re-sign their front line of Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. Whether that duo, Williams, Johnson and recently re-signed Gerald Wallace are enough to contend for a championship remains to be seen. However, it's a good way to hedge Brooklyn's bets against not being able to acquire Howard.
It seems like Dwight may have to expand his horizons unless a truly creative, cap-friendly trade can be struck which keeps Williams and Johnson around.
- This report provided by Bleacher Report's Dwight Howard Offseason Tracker.
Update: Monday, July 2 -- Joel C. Cordes
Though there haven't been any reports debunking the idea that the Brooklyn Nets have the edge in re-signing Deron Williams, he will also meet representatives from the Dallas Mavericks today.
Williams did state that he and Jason Kidd are not "a packaged deal" for wherever he signs. While both players have expressed interest in being teammates next year, they'll pursue their fates separately for now.
Kidd is unlikely to receive any opportunities to be a starting point guard, so he'll have to choose which "back-up" situation is most attractive. Having already won an NBA title in 2011, he may opt to play with Williams simply as a fun way to end his career.
Whether it's Dallas or Brooklyn, both players have serious ties in either location. Undoubtedly, the Nets can tip the first major domino for either player by acquiring Joe Johnson and/or landing Dwight Howard.
Update: Sunday, July 1 --Stephen Babb
It's looking more and more as though the Brooklyn Nets have the edge in securing the services of sought-after free agent Deron Williams.
Adding to the previously reported account that the Dallas Mavericks were concerned Williams was leaning toward a Brooklyn return, the prized point guard has now confirmed he's already favoring one of his two primary suitors (via ESPN staff):
Deron Williams, the most coveted player in this summer's free-agent class, told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that he will meet with representatives from the Brooklyn Nets andDallas Mavericks on Monday before deciding which team he will sign with.
The star point guard added that he is leaning toward one of the two teams, but refused to name which one.
According to CBSSports' Ken Berger, the Nets are also getting a head start reaching out to Williams:
Nets have had contact with Deron Williams ahead of tomorrow's meetings between the free-agent point guard and Brooklyn, Dallas, source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 1, 2012
It's still too soon to know where Williams will land, but most signs are indeed pointing to Brooklyn. Whereas the Mavericks' offseason picture remains murky at best, the Nets are reportedly close to inking forward Gerald Wallace to a four-year deal and have also been active in trade discussions aimed at upgrading the roster.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Williams would be the face of the Nets' historic relocation to Brooklyn and the media spectacle sure to ensue.
The Brooklyn Nets in the Lead?
The Brooklyn Nets have a better chance than many expected of keeping Williams, and the Mavericks reportedly are growing concerned. According to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger:
While optimists in the Mavs' camp are holding out hope that they still have a "50-50" chance of landing Williams, who grew up in Dallas, executives working the phones Tuesday have detected a real concern from the Mavs that Williams will opt to join the Nets in Brooklyn next season.
Meanwhile, as the Texas Rangers were wishing Williams a "happy birthday," he spent his birthday dining with Avery Johnson and an intimate group of invitees.
Where will Williams end up playing?
Dallas Still a Possibility
However, that shouldn't be taken to mean that he has made up his mind to stay in Brooklyn. In fact, the opposite of that is reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN.
Williams has not yet made up his mind, according to sources close to the situation. He has said publicly that he intends to make his decision quickly, most likely before he reports to training for Team USA on July 5.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Dirk Nowitzki would be happy to see Williams come on board.
Dirk Nowitzki: I’m anxious. We’d love to get D-Will (Deron Williams) in here. That’s no secret. If you look at the league now, if you look at those top teams, they all have two or three playmakers you can hand the ball to and they do their thing.
Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers Out of the Picture
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets are hoping that if they can put together a package that would land them Dwight Howard, they can get Deron Williams too. That's not likely to happen according to Sam Amick of SI.com
A source close to Nets point guard Deron Williams said Houston is not likely to be added to his free-agent wish list even if the Rockets get Howard. Williams is focused on the Nets or his hometown team in Dallas, though he is known to be open to joining the Lakers if they were able to pull off a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn.
While Lakers fans would love to see some good news regarding Williams to LA, it's just not there to be reported. Even if they are able to persuade the Nets to take Pau Gasol in a trade, there's nothing to indicate that Williams would agree.
For now, it's either Dallas or Brooklyn.