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NBA Free Agency 2012: Deron Williams And The Duel Of The Fates, Part Two

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Of course, there's more than three teams interested in a superstar point guard and we'll take a look at all of them, by category. But before we take a look at who they are, let's take a look at who they are not.

Obviated by talent in alphabetical order:

Obviated by lack of cap space or assets in trade:

  • The Bucks can't sign D-Will outright without renouncing the rights to all their free agents and though watching Prokhorov trying to sell Monta Ellis/Brandon Jennings and whomever else to his fanbase would be funny... but no.
  • The Magic are cap crippled and though watching Prokhorov's reaction to Dwight Howard and Deron Williams paired at last in Orlando would be funny...but no.
  • The Knicks shot themselves in the cap knee when they guaranteed Amare Stoudemire five years and max money. Kind of like Amar'e's knees are shot. #symmetry

Obviated by Life, The Universe and Everything:

  • The Bobcats are a terrible, small-market team.
  • The Raptors could sign D-Will to a max deal...but Bryan Colangelo's pitch would consist of "Andreas Bargnani. Jonas Valanciunas." /makesexplosionsound, mouths 'magical'. Toronto beats the hell out of Charlotte, at least...but no. You might argue Jose Calderon puts the Raps in the previous category and I wouldn't argue too much, but Calderon's deal is expiring and then I couldn't poke fun at Bryan Colangelo.
  • The Pistons are still chained to Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon and they aren't trading Greg Monroe. Even if Brooklyn would green light that deal.
  • The Kings have Isaiah Thomas. Before you start laughing in incredulity, the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2011 draft class was declared Western Conference Rookie of the month twice and was voted to the All-Rookie second team. The one no Wizards rookie received a vote for. Sacto has better places to spend their money, although watching Deron Williams and DeMarcus Cousins with Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette lighting it up on the wings would be fun. Also, it's Sacramento. And it's the Maloofs.
  • Of course the Knicks and Nets could swap Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams and the gods of irony would sigh in contentment while James Dolan and Mikahil Prohorov sip tea in the hills of Ise...but no.
  • The Jazz acquire Deron Williams. Ha.

Threats to sign outright:

  • The rumor mill is churning thanks to a report from the New York Daily News that the Suns will make a strong play for Deron Williams should Steve Nash bolt. Of course, news of Phoenix's interest isn't really news; the Suns desperately need star power and have plenty of cap space. Why the hell wouldn't they be interested in an All-World PG to revitalize their franchise, fanbase and fortunes? I mentioned the Hawks before in a possible Brook Lopez-Josh Smith swap and will later with an eye for grabbing Deron, but whatever happens with J-Smoove probably won't result with him leaving the ATL in free agency. Should the Hawks strike out on D-Will (if they push), could they justify flipping Smith for Steve Nash? Nash has stated his willingness to work out a S&T and if Phoenix is reborn like their namesake with Deron Williams and Josh Smith as the driving force...kewl. Although amnestying Josh Childress is probably a pre-requisite of D-Will signing; $19.2 million over three years for back-up play is no bueno, and they'd likely have to renounce the rights on several of their players. Of course, most of that scenario is probably obviated as the idea of the Suns signing a PG before Steve Nash's immediate future is decided seems unlikely.
  • The Hornets are just popping up everywhere, aren't they? They're facing some massive cap holds (like the Mavericks) courtesy of Chris Kaman and Carl Landry so how could they sign D-Will outright? Well, normally teams aren't too obvious about trading draft picks, concerned with depressing the market. NOLA hasn't been shy at all about their terms; taking on either Trevor Ariza's or (preferably, I assume) Emeka Okafor's two year deals at $15 million and $28 million, respectively. So, it's a pure salary dump. NOLA has made noise about retaining Chris Kaman, which would certainly be a deal for less than his cap hold. If the Hornets quickly re-sign Kaman and salary dump Ariza or Okafor they can offer a max or near-max contract depending on things work out with that Eric Gordon guy.
  • Could the Trail Blazers clear enough space to make an offer? They have quite a few cap holds, there's that whole Nicolas Batum restriced free agency thing (he's sour about not receiving an extension and will sign the first big offer sheet thrown his way) and it's Portland. Paul Allen did have a major hard-on for Chris Paul so the Blazers interest in Williams would make plenty of sense. While a Williams/Aldridge/Batum (+ Wesley Matthews?) core is a joy to consider, don't expect to see it happen, though the real tragedy might be never seeing a D-Will/Aldridge dual guest spot on Portlandia. But then again, if Batum quickly signs an offer sheet Portland isn't willing to match, they will have plenty of cap room and need to go with LaMarcus Aldridge...

Talent to trade, but unlikely:

  • The Heat. Oooooh. Irony: Dwayne Wade traded to Nets after mocking Dwight Howard's loyalty comments last season.. Reality: Brooklyn isn't trading their 1A point guard for a hard-used superstar SG who is showing dangerous signs of mortality. But then again...welp, in any case it seems more likely Miami would offer Chris Bosh because LeBron James is going nowhere. Of course that would just make their frontcourt situation even worse. Unlikely, even for the upgrade Williams represents over Mario Chalmers. The drop off in talent between Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat front court is just too devastating. Unless Miami can sign Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan to veteran minimum deals.
  • Seems like just yesterday the Spurs had Tony Parker was on the block, no? But aside from Parker, what could the Nets want? Danny Green and Gary Neal are easy enough as free agents to poach with San Antonio's gaping holes at PF and C. No one is going to mistake Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard for Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Matt Bonner > Timofey Mozgov? But if all else fails and it seems as though Williams will walk, a sign-and-trade to San Antonio where Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson await on the wings with Tim Duncan (who would have to be re-signed already) inside (along with Kevin Garnett?) with a five year deal must sound tasty, and at least Prok would have his international point guard. Of course, unless Duncan (and KG?) signed for very affordable deals, this would be impossible. Which it probably is anyway.
  • The Hawks come up in quite a few scenarios for the Nets, just not many of them deal with Deron Williams despite an obvious need at the point. Josh Smith is too obviously trade bait for such a hot commodity and the conversation would have to start with Al Horford. If Atlanta could find some way to dump Joe Johnson, all the better. Honestly, this is probably one the few instances where trading big for small could work out for the Hawks.
  • Because 'Rudy Gay's contract is big!' the Grizzlies must be mentioned in every trade scenario, period(.) While the Nets are likely more interested in dealing for Gay to put next to Williams, trotting out Rudy Gay and Mike Conley next to Brook Lopez would make that team a lot more respectable. There'd probably be draft picks and another piece or two moving around, but if the Grizz get in on the D-Will feeding frenzy, it's hard to see a trade centering around anything else.
  • The 76ers are here because Andre Iguodala had a great series against the Celtics, else he'd probably be viewed as the thrice-warmed over steak dinner insultingly rampant trade rumors have unfairly transformed him into. Send back Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and probably Evan Turner and the Nets would give it some serious thought though Philly would almost certainly balk at surredering Turner. And there would be the amusing thought of the Nets having covered half the distance to trading up to the number one spot in the 2010 draft at last.
  • The Warriors could offer Stephen Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson which, again, the Nets would have to consider. Of course, that leaves D-Will to play with another Center with injury history in Andrew Bogut. If Gerald Wallace didn't right the ship in Brooklyn, nothing is going to convince D-Will Richard Jefferson can. If Golden State can figure out how to grab Rudy Gay, without surrendering too many assets however...
  • The Pacers would be a glorious match in free agency, if they could sign him before giving Roy Hibbert his inevitable max or near-max contract. Leandro Barbosa would have to be renounced, but so what? A woefully overmatched projected rotation of Darren Collison and George Hill could move Hill back to his natural position at SG, but this deal will have to happen via trade. Danny Granger would be at the center of it, Paul George's stroke be damned. The Nets probably wouldn't pay attention unless a Hibbert for Lopez swap was tucked in there, too. Lopez is probably a deal breaker...that family has probelms staying healthy. And the Nets would still probably ask for George and David West instead of Granger. Not happening.
  • The Nuggets have to listen to a local journalist bray for LeBron James because Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo are older than the Thunder's big 3. If the Nuggets are inclined to entertain such 'logic', the Nets would have to send back more than just Deron Williams, but it's hard to see D-Will signing off on any trade where his primary supporting pieces are (maybe!) Wilson Chandler, (maybe!) JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried. Not enough impetus on either side to pull the trigger.

The market isn't very wide, but with superstars it really is. Most hold it is nigh impossible to get commensurate value back, although the Nuggets and Hornets got closer to the mark. In the end the biggest markets with the most money have the edge in swinging trades for superstars, but at least it isn't baseball.