NBA

Let’s Trade Nets Guard Deron Williams

Basketball Insiders takes a look at some potential trades for Nets point guard Deron Williams.

Jesse Blancarte profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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Last week, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk reported that the Brooklyn Nets are prepared to trade each of their star players, including Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams. It’s still not clear whether each of these players will be dealt this season, but it seems likely that at least two out of the three will be traded.

The most talented and accomplished player of the bunch is point guard Deron Williams. He was selected to the All-NBA Second Team twice (2008, 2010), is a three-time All-Star (2010–2012), and has career averages of 17.4 points, 8.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. For several seasons, Williams was considered to be one of the two best point guards in the NBA, along with Chris Paul. However, since being traded to the then-New Jersey Nets in early 2011, Williams has struggled through injuries, inconsistent play and has fallen short of the lofty expectations that came with his arrival in New Jersey.

Since his first season with the Nets, Williams’ production has, for the most part, declined each season (though Williams is playing better this season than last). For this season, Williams is averaging 16.5 point, 6.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He may not be the dominant player he was early in his career, but Williams is still an impact point guard with playoff experience that can be the third best player on a true contender, or a catalyst for a team failing to meet expectations.

Williams is set to make $19,754,465 this season, $21,042,800 next season, and $22,331,135 for the 2016-17 season (early termination option). This is a hefty price tag for a 30 year old point guard, especially in a league littered with talent at the position. Nevertheless, Williams is still a very good player and teams looking for help at point guard and are willing to make a bold move will call Brooklyn for his services.

Considering all of this, here are some potential trade scenarios for Deron Williams:

Indiana Pacers-

Outgoing Players: George Hill, Luis Scola, Chis Copeland.

The Indiana Pacers have struggled this season without Paul George (broken leg) and Lance Stephenson (signed with Charlotte Hornets last offseason). The Pacers are currently 8-17 (11th in the Eastern Conference) and have lost eight of their last ten games. However, the Pacers are still within reach of the eighth seed and are certainly scouring the league for help via a trade.

Williams is a clear upgrade over the Pacer’s current point guards, George Hill, C.J. Watson and Rodney Stuckey. The Pacers are currently ranked 27th in offensive efficiency (97.5 points per 100 possessions), and are in need of a playmaker and scorer. Williams is still both of those things, even if he is no longer among the NBA’s elite. This trade would prevent the Pacers from bringing back Stephenson, who has reportedly been made available in trade discussions by the Hornets. However, at age 30, Williams could be a nice piece for a Pacers team that is waiting for the return of George (unlikely to play this season), and is struggling to keep pace for a playoff berth in the East.

The Nets may entertain the deal since they are trying to remain competitive while unloading long term salary. Hill, Scola and Copeland can all contribute to varying degrees, and only Hill’s contract goes past this season (two years, $8 million). It’s not a slam dunk trade for the Nets, but with so many impact point guards on rookie contracts, and reasonable contracts (e.g., Damian Lillard and Kyle Lowry), the Nets can’t really expect to get a king’s ransom in return for Williams.

New Orleans Pelicans-

Outgoing Players: Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Jimmer Fredette.

The Pelicans are currently 12-12 (8th in the Western Conference), and are just a half-game ahead of the streaking Oklahoma City Thunder for the final playoff spot. Anthony Davis has emerged as one of best three players in the NBA this year (if not the outright best), and the Pelicans front office may feel pressure to win now.

Eric Gordon has been a disappointment since arriving in New Orleans from Los Angeles, and recently suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder. However, at age 25, Gordon is still young enough to rediscover the player he was earlier in his career with the Clippers (or something close to it), which was one of the best up and coming two-way shooting guards in the league (see Gordon’s 2010-11 stats).

Gordon has two years left on his deal, and will be 27 by the time he is up for a new contract. Assuming he gets past the worst of his injury issues, Gordon could be in line for a reasonable contract moving forward with the Nets as their new shooting guard. The Nets would also get a look at Austin Rivers and Jimmer Fredette, who have both fallen short of expectations since entering the league. Rivers in particular would be a low-risk investment who could either exceed expectations or simply be let go after next season if he doesn’t show significant improvement.

On the other side, the Pelicans get to pair up Williams with Jrue Holiday in the backcourt. Both players are big enough and physical enough to play together (like Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic in Phoenix), and both are good enough shooters to play off the ball and spread the court. Also, both Williams and Holiday are good playmakers that can run pick-and-rolls with Davis, and find easy scoring opportunities for other players like Omer Asik. If the Pelicans aren’t convinced that this would be a good pairing, they could simply swap Holiday in the deal for Gordon, though it’s doubtful that would be their preference.

Detroit Pistons-

Outgoing Players: Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.

Stan Van Gundy took over the Pistons as both the team president and head coach last offseason. Van Gundy didn’t get to shake up the roster the way he might have liked to, and it is clear that this current group of players is not constructed to win at a high level.

By trading away Josh Smith, the Pistons open up the logjam in the frontcourt and can play Greg Monroe big minutes next to Andre Drummond. Williams would be in charge of finding easy scoring opportunities for Drummond and Monroe near the basket, and shooters like Jodie Meeks and Kyle Singler on the perimeter. It may not help the Pistons make the playoffs this season after starting 5-20, but it gives Van Gundy a point guard that can run the offense without playing out of control as often as Jennings does (though Jennings has improved this part of his game over the last few seasons).

The problem with this deal is that it leaves Detroit vulnerable to losing Monroe after the season with no one to replace him. Monroe will be an unrestricted free agent after accepting Detroit’s qualifying offer last offseason, rather than signing an extension. However, Monroe has stated emphatically to the media that he is not itching to leave Detroit. Assuming that is true, trading away Smith, and creating a core with Williams and the improving Drummond may prove enough to keep Monroe in Detroit.

Also, the Nets may not be too high on the prospect of having Smith on the team through the 2016-17 season. Smith is clearly talented, but his shot selection is still atrocious and his focus fluctuates on any given night. However, Smith had some of his best seasons in Atlanta playing with Joe Johnson. Assuming Johnson remains in Brooklyn, the two may find some of their old chemistry from their time with the Hawks.

The Nets would also benefit from two seasons with Jennings, who at the end of his current contract will be 27 years old. Similar to the aforementioned deal involving Eric Gordon, the Nets could determine over the next two seasons whether Jennings is worth committing to long term, or instead dangle him in a later deal.

Sacramento Kings-

Outgoing Players: Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum, Derrick Williams, Carl Landry

The gamble on Darren Collison has worked out so far this season for the Sacramento Kings (though keeping Isaiah Thomas should have been more of a priority for the Kings last offseason), but Williams would represent a major upgrade here. Boston point guard Rajon Rondo has been linked to the Kings several times in the past, and though Williams is seemingly on the decline, and is owed more money than Rondo, he helps them meet ownership’s high expectations better than Collison.

Consider that the Kings front office just fired Mike Malone since they are currently slipping out of the playoff picture in the West (with DeMarcus Cousins sidelined with viral meningitis), and we see just how desperately they want to compete at a high level immediately. This is the same front office that wanted to take a chance on Josh Smith last offseason, so it’s clear that they are open to making bold moves for veterans.

In this scenario, the Kings have to give up shooting guard prospect Ben McLemore (you could swap in Nik Stauskas here hypothetically), who has played well this season after an underwhelming rookie season. Losing McCallum may hurt as well, but with Williams, Collison and Sessions on the roster, there wouldn’t be much need for him in Sacramento. Derrick Williams, the former number two pick in the 2011 draft, has failed to meet expectations, but at age 23 still has upside. But, in return for a nice haul of talent, the Nets would have to eat the remaining three years of Landry’s four-year, $26 million deal (fully guaranteed).

The Nets get nice prospects at shooting guard, point guard and power forward, and a useful veteran in Landry. Of the deals so far mentioned, this one brings back the most young talent for a rebuilding effort.

There are other teams aside from the Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons and Kings that could be interested in William’s services. The Miami HEAT is currently relying on Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier to man the point guard position. While each player is talented, none is on the level of Williams.

The Miami HEAT went all in on this roster after LeBron James took his talents home to Cleveland, so we know the HEAT is looking to win now. Miami is currently 12-13, which is good for the seventh seed in the East. But Miami is just 4-6 in their last ten games and would certainly benefit from pairing Williams with Dwyane Wade in the backcourt. The issue for the HEAT is they don’t have the salaries to make an easy deal with the Nets, and would likely need a third team to facilitate any potential deals involving Williams.

The Houston Rockets are another team that could be interested in Williams. The Rockets, like the Kings, have been linked to Rajon Rondo in the past and it’s not hard to understand why. As good of a defensive player as Patrick Beverley is, he can’t create many scoring opportunities for his teammates and he isn’t a great shooter (though he is currently shooting what is likely an unsustainable 45.7 percent from beyond-the-arc this season). This leaves James Harden with the heavy task of being the Rockets best playmaker and scorer. A player like Williams should be able to let Harden play off the ball, and ease his burden on offense. But the Rockets, like the HEAT, lack the contracts to make a swap for Williams and would likely need a third team to help facilitate a deal.

Another team that may be interested is the Dallas Mavericks, who are currently relying on Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea to man the point guard position. Williams grew up in Texas and would be a big upgrade for the Mavericks, who currently have one of the best offenses in the league. But the Mavericks don’t have players with salary that they would be willing to include in a deal to net Williams and would likely need to get another team involved as well.

These proposed deals can all be adjusted to better meet each team’s needs, but they provide a foundation for moving Williams to a team that is in need of help at point guard. Also, these deals, were any to be actually executed, would likely include the exchange of one or more draft picks. However, these are just some examples of what the market currently looks like for Williams, and what teams may be willing to offer in exchange for Williams, who has been one of the elite point guards in the NBA over the last decade.

Let us know what deals you think teams should make for Deron Williams in the comments section below!

 

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Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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