Deron Williams is reportedly seeking a buyout from his contract with the Nets with the hopes of joining his hometown Dallas Mavericks, according to a report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
“It’s 60 to 70 percent that [Williams] winds up in Dallas,” one source told ESPN.com.
The positives to a buyout are crystal clear. Cutting ties with Williams would signify the end of a failed era in Brooklyn, one they’re already trying to move past. The 31-year-old point guard has declined sharply since leaving the Utah Jazz for Brooklyn, finishing last year shooting a career-low 38.7 percent from the field. The Nets have been better with Williams on the floor than off the floor throughout Williams’s tenure, but he’s been unable to lead them beyond the first round of the playoffs more than once in a weak Eastern Conference, and the Nets would likely value cap flexibility over the declining Williams going forward.
For Williams, it’s a chance to start fresh in his hometown after an injury-riddled and confidence-addled tenure with the Nets. The Mavericks also recently signed Wesley Matthews, a former teammate of Williams’s in Utah.
But it would also leave the Nets stuck. If the Nets simply bought out Williams, their next starter would be Jarrett Jack, who had one of the league’s worst plus-minus figures last season, Steve Blake, a 35-year-old backup, and Shane Larkin, who’s averaged fewer than five assists per 36 minutes in his career. A buyout would still leave the Nets without cap space to sign anyone above the minimum.
Williams declined to speak with reporters on the last day of the season, and both management and player seem amenable to a breakup. He has said in the past (fairly) that he does not feel like a New Yorker.
Williams has $43 million remaining on his contract over the next two years, and Brooklyn management is desperately trying to reduce payroll by finding a destination for him or Joe Johnson. Billy King has previously said using the “stretch” provision on Williams’s deal — which would “stretch” the value of the contract over five years and reduce the year-by-year payroll hit — is not an option, but the Nets could conceivably stretch out the terms of a buyout, which would help them get under the luxury tax.
The Mavericks recently struck out in their pursuit of DeAndre Jordan, after Jordan committed to the Mavericks and then balked five days later, deciding to return to the Los Angeles Clippers. Losing out on Jordan leaves the team with cap space, but the team wants to sign Williams to a new contract rather than take on his old one, according to the report. Williams would also have a “trade kicker” that takes effect this offseason, though he could elect to waive it for the right trade.
The Mavericks were the other major suitor for Williams when he was a free agent in 2012, but Williams elected to sign a five-year maximum contract with the Nets over a four-year deal with a slightly smaller annual salary. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also did not attend the meeting between Williams & the Mavericks.