The Brooklyn Nets are one of at least four teams that are expected to chase reigning Sixth Man of the Year and unrestricted free agent guard Lou Williams, according to Shams Charania of RealGM.
The Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers are also reportedly interested, as well as the Toronto Raptors, Williams’s most recent team. According to Charania, there is mutual interest between the Raptors & Williams to re-sign in Toronto.
Nets general manager Billy King drafted Williams with the 45th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and Williams became a full-time member of the 76ers rotation as a bench scorer by his third season. Williams also rehabbed a torn ACL he suffered in Barclays Center in 2013 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks before winning the Sixth Man award this past season with the Raptors.
The 6MOY award normally goes to short scorers, and Williams fits the mold as a 6’2″ gunner. But he isn’t just a shot-stuffer: he leverages his low shooting percentage (40.4% from the field and 34% from three last season) with his ability to draw contact (averaging 7.1 FT attempts per 36 minutes and knocking down 86.1% percent of them) and a low turnover rate. He also scored the 263 points in isolation situations this year[note]Per Synergy Sports.[/note], ranking him fourth among NBA players, and his 0.97 points per possession in isolation was none too shabby.
But it’s hard to envision how the Nets could clear the cap room to sign Williams. The Nets are already capped out with cap holds on Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, and with the team’s strong intention to re-sign both, that leaves no room for the Nets to sign anyone above the (likely taxpayer) mid-level exception. Williams could secure a contract around $8 to $9 million per season in free agency, well above what the Nets are able to offer.
If the Nets do somehow end up with Williams, it’s by some incredible stroke of summer trading to free up cap space, or because they lose both Young & Lopez in free agency.
More often than not, the Nets get thrown into these free agent rumors — they’re always on the market for players, and because they’re now a high-profile team in Brooklyn with a history of spending. It’s likely no coincidence that two other big-market teams in the Knicks and Lakers are on that list. With the Nets looking to walk the tricky tightrope between re-signing their core frontcourt and making moves to stay under the luxury tax, a Lou-Williams-to-Brooklyn storyline seems quite unlikely.