The Nets have undergone a massive shift in vision and culture this offseason, and a big part of that was cutting ties with Deron Williams with a $27.5 million buyout.
“I think (a buyout was the best option) for both parties,” Billy King said Tuesday afternoon in a 30-minute session with the media. “As I said when the buyout happened, I’m happy for Deron. I think he’s getting a fresh start in Dallas so I’m happy for him. Unfortunately it didn’t work out here to the best of all our likings, but I wish him the best.
“And I do sincerely mean that. When I spoke to him on the phone afterwards, I said ‘I’m happy for yourself and your family, that now you’re in a place where you’re around your family, and now basketball success will come with you.’ For us it’s the same, it’s a new start for us as well, and I think both parties have a chance to start fresh.”
King said he originally approached Deron Williams’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, about the buyout opportunity. Schwartz is also the agent for Jason Kidd, who left the Nets last year, as well as numerous other big NBA names.
“We explored the possibility of a trade and there was no opportunity there, and so we looked at other options,” King said. “And that was the best option, not only for this year and tax, but also for next year and creating cap space for next season as well.”
The structure of the buyout allowed the Nets to “stretch” Williams’s contract over five years, at $5.5 million per season. That allowed them to get under the luxury tax, potentially saving as much as $60 million this year.
Since Williams has left, there’s been a renewed feeling about the organization’s future. They’ve moved into their next era of Nets basketball, beyond shooting for instant championships and trying to build from within. They have a long way to go — and not having draft picks doesn’t help — but the team had a necessary offseason.
There’s also a sense that the guys on the roster actually like each other. But King won’t say that’s because Williams is gone.
“I don’t know (what the difference is),” King said. “We were able to I think gather some guys…For example, Joe and Jarrett and Thaddeus the night of the draft texted me for Rondae’s number and Chris’ number and they reached out right away. When we signed Shane, they wanted his number. So they’ve taken it upon themselves to reach out to each other. Rondae was the one that got them all to go the Fashion Show last week.
“So it’s something about the personality of the guys that we have now and they’ve done a lot more to really reach out to each other to try to bond more.”
But when asked if losing Deron Williams was addition by subtraction, King merely said, “next question.”
King also hinted that he believed a Utah Jazz doctor who spoke on record about Deron Williams’s injury history may have broken the law.
“I don’t know, I just know there’s HIPAA laws and I believe a doctor wouldn’t be speaking about someone’s medical condition publicly,” King said. “Then so I’m not gonna do the same because I know there’s a law. I don’t know if a doctor did but I know there’s a law.”
The doctor, Jazz physician Lyle Mason, said of Williams in the interview: “Nobody ever figured the wrist out. We knew he had loose ankles. And then those just got worse, I think, at least more symptomatic when he went to New Jersey. But that’s been a big part of his problems in New Jersey is his inability to stay on the floor.”