Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. D-Will and D-12. For the span of many months, the prospect of the two superstars pairing up to take the NBA by storm seemed anything but inevitable. Then everything changed. To the anger and confusion of many fans, Howard decided to opt in with the Magic after much dithering and indecision. One day, he was committed to bringing the Magic a championship. On the other, he reiterated his trade demands. When the trade deadline approached, his former mindset prevailed.
This is where Williams is Howard's polar opposite: in covering his bases. Several days ago, he made it clear to the media that he has not yet decided where he wants to play the following season. "I want to reiterate, I don't know what I'm doing next year. Still. Nobody does but me. Not even my mom, my brother, my uncle, my cousin. I haven't talked to anybody about where I'm going next year," Williams insisted.
The primary competitors for his services are the Brooklyn Nets and the Dallas Mavericks. However, dark horses such as the Los Angeles Lakers are reasonable alternatives.
Should he stay in Brooklyn, the Nets would attract much attention. Maverick Jason Kidd sees the upside to staying. "The last professional team there was the Dodgers, so I think they're going to be very excited. And then with the Russian owner, I mean, he's not short on money so I think they're going to go out and make a splash," Kidd said. With cap space and the offensively talented Brook Lopez at center, the Nets' front office has both the flexibility and means to field a competitive roster within the next couple of years. Additionally, the Nets have the financial backing to sign Williams to a considerably more lucrative contract at $109 million. And what's that? Oh yes, Dwight Howard might yet still be traded to the Nets anyway.
Going to Dallas would have its upsides too. Unlike the Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, Williams has not been averse to returning to his North Texas roots and playing for his hometown team. While the Mavericks would not be able to sign him to a similarly sized contract to the Nets, the lower cost of living and absence of a state income tax mitigates this difference somewhat. Either way, the talented guard stands to be firmly financially stable for years to come. The difference is in the culture. Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have consistently crafted competitive rosters for over a decade. The Mavericks have a future Hall of Famer and the most recent Finals MVP, ready to embrace a secondary role to a player of Williams' ilk.
Deron Williams has several compelling choices to make. And it could be argued that neither would be a bad decision. Where do you think he ought to sign?