Has Daryl Morey continued his pursuit of a Deron Williams-Dwight Howard merger? One Nets source says no, but Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report says not to rule it out.
Bucher, in discussing what moves the Rockets might make, cites Williams as a potential player the Houston Rockets GM might look at in their “hot and heavy” pursuit for a point guard:
Via Bleacher Report
Here’s what Bucher said about Williams, adding that it was “far more likely” the Rockets go after Suns guard Goran Dragic:
Sources around the league are saying don’t count Deron Williams out from the Brooklyn Nets, even though he has that fat contract and right now he has a rib injury.
But that seems more clouded in rumor than fact. A team source says the Rockets have yet to talk with the Nets about Williams, and constructing a potential deal is close to impossible.
Even if the Rockets were interested, they simply don’t have the right assets to take on Williams’s contract under the collective bargaining agreement; two of their above-minimum players (Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved) can’t be traded in combination with another player. Secondly, the contract that would fit best to help make salaries match is Trevor Ariza’s, who is making $8.6 million in the first of a four-year deal, and the Nets have balked at adding salary beyond this or next season.
There is one loophole, the same one every team could use: the Philadelphia 76ers. 76ers GM Sam Hinkie has built a roster so far below the salary floor — the minimum that a team has to pay its roster regardless of how much they’re actually owed — that they could take on nearly any contract the Rockets would want to send their way without adding any additional money to their payroll cost. Plus, Hinkie is Morey’s protégé; Hinkie worked with the Rockets under Morey from 2007-2013, and the relationship could help the teams facilitate a deal.
Should the 76ers elect to help, the Nets would only have to take back Jason Terry — a former Net — and a couple of minimum contracts, and if structured right, could even help push the Nets below the luxury tax.
But that’s just a dream. The 76ers won’t take on a four-year deal for Ariza — even a front-loaded one, as Ariza’s is — just because the two GM’s used to work together, even if the Rockets were interested in acquiring Williams. Even if they would, Hinkie would likely want a draft pick to sweeten the pot, which the Nets couldn’t really help them with — they’re handcuffed from trading any first-round pick until 2020. That would put the onus on the Rockets to trade at least one future first-rounder. That’s a stiff price for Deron Williams, who is out indefinitely after fracturing the cartilage portion of his lower 12th rib and has dealt with numerous injuries since being acquired by the Nets.
The Houston Rockets general manager coveted Williams last season, reportedly trying to unite him with big man Dwight Howard last season with a package around Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. The Nets balked at the deal, electing to stick with Williams for the duration of last season.