In some ways, you have to sort of admire the way Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams has elbowed his way into the sort of NBA-level celebrity pantheon we usually reserve for talents like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Kobe Bryant. The first three on that list are as notorious for shifting uniforms midstream, while the last on that list is just super-famous/awesome/possibly a jerk to other jerks.
Deron? He's starting to become a mixture of the lot, even if he probably ranks a good step behind that quartet when it typically comes production and game-changing ability. He quietly did enough to force a trade from Utah to a rebuilding Nets franchise a year and a half ago, and had both Dallas and the would-be Brooklyn Nets patiently waiting out his 2011-12 season and eventual free agency before Deron decided to stick. And, as he decided to ramp up the stickiness, Williams wielded a little influence with Nets GM Billy King as Brooklyn considered a trade for Dwight Howard. From ESPN New York:
"One thing Deron did say to me, he said, 'Please, just don't wait on Dwight [Howard]. We can't wait and not have a team,'" King said during the premiere of NBA TV's "The Association: Brooklyn Nets," which will air on Oct. 16.
"The team of Brooklyn is bigger than one person. I owed it to the organization, I owed it to our fans, I owed it to Deron and the players that we have to build for Brooklyn, and we went forward and built our team."
That's all pleasant and show-offy, not unlike Deron Williams talking up Mark Cuban's apparently off-putting absence from DW's meeting with the Dallas Mavericks last July, but it's probably all a bit of "ain't Joe Johnson great?!?"-deflecting hogwash.
Had there been even a moderate chance the Orlando Magic were going to go for the Brook Lopez-led offer that would return them Dwight Howard's services in early July, the Brooklyn Nets would have held on through Labor Day for an attempt at the MVP-level center. And though the Magic ended up taking what we think is a pretty crummy deal after months of butchering their work with Howard's value on the market, and though the longer contracts the team took back from Denver nearly approximate the contract extension Lopez would have played for under the sign-and-trade guidelines, the deal just wasn't happening.
This is just King working as a GM, selling his team, selling his work. And he's done well enough with Mikhail Prokhorov's money — putting together a team around Deron, a re-signed Brook, Joe Johnson, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace that's … eh … Pretty good?
This response is better than King going on NBA TV and basically just talking about how the Nets will be "a better version of the Knicks, probably." Which would be accurate, we suppose.
It's all part of the plan; all part of what every GM does once the Crazy Season ends and the talking up begins. Put Deron Williams on a pedestal as a LeBron/CP3/Kobe-styled front office shaker, argue away not being able to deal for Howard as some sort of response to wanting to move on. Even if you would have been at Dwight's doorstep with a year's supply with Skittles in a Brooklyn minute if it had meant you were in with a chance.
King didn't lose out on Dwight Howard; Dwight Howard lost out on the Brooklyn Nets because in a self-pitying whim he decided to opt in to the final year of his contract with the Orlando Magic last March. Every NBA observer on earth save for the Magic's t-shirt designers knew it wouldn't last, and Howard more or less signed off on that guesswork by inching back towards his trade demands a month later, but the move sealed his fate as a potential sign-and-trade option for the Nets.
As the Nets' first season in Brooklyn gets ready to tip off and Williams graces the cover of Sports Illustrated as a well-deserved result, it might be time to back off on the myth-making. For weeks at a time, D-Will will play like the league's best point guard, and he's certainly a franchise cornerstone to be proud of. Beyond that, however, we're tiring of him as a continual subject.
The kvetching about Mark Cuban's absence, bringing it up on your own and then backing away once Cuban hit you with a nicely-honed zing? The shots sent his ex-teammates' way? The hob-nobbing with ADMITTED ADULTERS?
It's a bit much; though we readily admit this is par for the course when you have a show to sell. Soon the noise will wash away, and Williams will have to push 20 points and 10 dimes while challenging for the Atlantic division title.
And like Deron, and Billy King, and Nets fans; we can't wait for the sound of that ball bouncing off of hardwood to replace any other aural discomfort we might be feeling as a result of this move.
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