Could Deron Williams Stay with New Jersey Nets, Bring Dwight Howard to Brooklyn?

Brandon PutreContributor IFebruary 27, 2011

Just as quickly as the New Jersey Nets and Utah Jazz struck a deal that landed Deron Williams in New Jersey, critics of the trade began doubting the Nets' ability to keep him there.

He won't sign an extension with the Nets. The Nets gave up too much.  This is only an extended rental.  In two years, he will be a New York Knick.

It has all been said by now, and almost nobody believes the Nets can convince him to stay, especially considering Deron's comments following news of the trade.  Yet, can anybody really blame him for being upset that he lost a chance to lead his team to a championship or at least somewhere close?

Eventually, he will come to terms with his new situation, if he has not already.  While the Nets, who currently stand at 17-42, are not exactly looking to make a playoff push this year, there is plenty to be excited about from Deron's standpoint.

We all know of his turmoil in Utah and his infamous bouts with Jerry Sloan.  We know that Williams hated playing in Sloan's rigid system.  There was just something that didn't click and allow him to have the freedom he wanted as a player.

Avery Johnson and the Nets can offer him this freedom by playing to his style and allowing him to lead the show.  This is probably the first step to convincing Williams to sign a long-term deal.

The next step is building the roster around him and finding pieces that fit well with his game.  Last year, the Nets had difficulty landing free agents, but that was mostly due to the lack of talent already on the roster.  Landing the first star is always the hardest, and the Nets are now over that hump with Deron. 

Players like David West, J.R. Smith and Caron Butler will all be more inclined to sign with New Jersey now that they have a cornerstone to build around (let us not forget Andrei Kirilenko, Deron's buddy in Utah and Mikhail Prokhorov's good friend).

If the Nets cannot make a key signing or two in the summer, consider Deron a goner. If they can considerably improve their roster and go to lengths to show Deron they care, there will be hope.  It is as simple as that.

Perhaps the most interesting move the Nets can make, however, is an extend-and-trade deal next season for Dwight Howard.  If he does not sign an extension with the Orlando Magic, he will most definitely be a coveted player at the trade deadline. 

Brook Lopez, a few role players and picks is an attractive offer to the Magic organization, but would Howard approve the trade?

ESPN's Ric Bucher recently reported that Williams and Howard have considered joining forces, and New Jersey (or Brooklyn) has the cap space and a new arena in the biggest market in the country, so why not with the Nets?

Plenty of teams will be interested in Howard, but if the two stars are as serious as Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul about this allying, then New York may soon have two prominent teams.

While this is all speculation, it may not even be this hard for the Nets to keep Deron.  In the same way that Carmelo was not about to sign in free agency and take less money because of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Nets can throw money at Williams before the end of this season and lock him up right away.  If Deron does not want to risk waiting and losing millions of dollars, this issue may be cleared up before we know it.

Either way, the dynamic between Williams and the Nets is going to be an interesting one to follow.  Whether or not they can sign him or have to trade him elsewhere, the Nets made the smart move in acquiring him.  It isn't every day that an elite player is up for grabs.

Now let us see if Prokhorov's savvy business tactics can move his team into contention in the East.