EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Deron Williams' future as a Net always seems to be tenuous at best. But if he isn't back next season, it's more likely it will be because of a trade than a buyout.
Nets general manager Billy King was asked Wednesday if there was any possibility Williams, who has two years and $43 million left on his contract, would be bought out or waived through the stretch provision.
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"No," King said.
It's possible King could try to move Williams or Joe Johnson, who will make $24.9 million next season in the final year of his deal.
King talked about wanting to re-sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, yet hoping to be under the luxury tax. If all four players return, the Nets almost certainly will be a tax-paying team. To avoid that, the Nets could "make a trade and bring back less salary," according to King.
"The goal is to try to be under the tax," King said following Wednesday's pre-draft workout. "That's just the goal. How realistic? It may not be. If we end up being over the tax, so be it. We're not going to jeopardize our roster, jeopardize the team just to be under the tax. If a decision is made to make the team better then we'll do that."
In a letter from King and Nets CEO Brett Yormark sent to season-ticket holders last week, they stated the goal was re-signing Lopez and Young. Both have contract options that can allow them to be free agents July 1. Neither Williams nor Johnson were mentioned, fueling speculation that they might not be in Nets uniforms much longer.
King said it wasn't meant as "a slight," and that all 15 players couldn't be mentioned in the letter that also touted some of the young players.
"Within that letter, I think people made a big deal because we didn't mention Joe and Deron's name," King said. "But I think in doing so we talked about Brook and Thaddeus, trying to retain them because they were free agents. We talked about some of our younger guys because we didn't know coming in how successful they would be in the NBA.
"So I guess we were sort of saying, we know these guys can play in the league. We weren't trying to slight Deron and Joe. We know what they have and what they bring to the table."
King also said the Nets are close to reaching an agreement for their own D-League team. He said it won't start for a couple of years and it would likely be in Brooklyn at the outset.