Nets Should Revisit Williams to Kings Deal


The Brooklyn Nets are in the midst of a season that could at best be termed mediocre.  They are stuck in the middle of attempting to contend for a playoff spot and building for the future. The 2015 trade deadline came and went without an expected roster change with the choice to instead attempt to qualify for the eighth and final playoff spot.

There were, however, plenty of trade rumors before Billy King and the Nets front office decided to stand pat, including a potential trade that would have sent Brook Lopez to Oklahoma City.  Yet as close as that trade reportedly was to complete, it is another trade proposal that the Nets may regret turning down.

With the highest payroll in the NBA and arguably the least production from their costly roster aside from the Knicks and Lakers, the Brooklyn front office knows that changes have to be made and the second largest contract on the roster is likely to be on the trade market as soon as the season concludes.  The man who possesses that contract, Deron Williams, is locked in for the next two seasons at over $20 million per season and has failed to come close to the value that is expected to accompany that price.

Although the Nets are likely to be met with a cold market for Williams, there may be one team interested in his services.

The Sacramento Kings were reportedly viewing Williams as an upgrade on current starting point guard Darren Collison and were willing to part with either Ben McLemore or Nik Stauskas to get him.  The caveat, however, was that Nets’ big man Mason Plumlee would also be sent to Sacramento considering that salary that Sacramento would be absorbing onto their payroll. Brooklyn balked at the asking price and the deal reportedly fell through.

Dec 27, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) reacts after scoring against the New York Knicks in overtime at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings won 135-129 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Those initial trade talks could be the jumping off point the Nets need following the season.  Sacramento has the third worst record in the Western Conference, Darren Collison is coming off what has been termed a “core muscle injury”, and Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive may be looking to make a splash in order to boost jersey and ticket sales.

Williams would give him that splash and despite his lack of production, the type of “star” power that would, at least initially, draw fans.  It’s more than questionable whether Williams will ever return to a level anywhere close to his former All-Star caliber self, but Sacramento may be willing to gamble on that chance.

The deal may once again come down to the inclusion of Plumlee who fans and pundits agree is on the rise.  Brooklyn has to hope that Collison’s injury and another losing season in Sacramento won’t necessitate that, but they have to at least consider it if it means jettisoning Williams’ bloated contract.

As talented as Plumlee is, his offensive game is severely limited to put-backs and dunks around the basket.  Despite his athleticism, he doesn’t block many shots and although he rebounds at a solid rate, he hasn’t shown game-changing ability.  His 10.6 PER-36 minutes rebounding average is below Kris Humphries’ (11.3), Ed Davis’ (11.3), and Mitch McGary’s (12.3) and his ability to shoot free throws can be considered a detriment at the end of games.

He does, however, provide a high energy presence and is among the most athletic big men in the NBA at 25 years old.

He’s still young enough to add some post moves to his repertoire, but will need a coach and organization that’s willing to be patient with his development.  Even if he doesn’t expand his arsenal, he’s a talented athletic big man on an affordable contract.

If Brooklyn reignites talks with Sacramento, any deal should center on Williams being dealt for Collison and Derrick Williams, who would have to accept an $8.7 million one-year qualifying offer.  If Plumlee is included in the deal Mclemore would be sent back to Brooklyn.  Either way, Carl Landry or Jason Thompson would likely have to be incorporated in order to match salaries.

Whether or not the Kings explore a trade for Williams, the Nets have to be creative in order to cut salary.   As Brooklyn prepares for the off-season, there should be no doubt that everyone on the roster is up for grabs.  With no certain cornerstone to build upon for the future, it’s time for a change, and Williams may be the first to go.