In December, Williams told WFAN his plan was to stay with the Nets when they moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn at the end of the 2011-12 season. However, since the Nets failed to land Dwight Howard in a trade prior to the season, the team has floundered (4-11, last in the Atlantic), driving speculation that Williams will look to team up with a superstar elsewhere.
Los Angeles, New York and Dallas will be in the market for a marquee point guard next year. In L.A., Derek Fisher is at the tail end of his career, and his days as a starter are numbered. The same is the case in Dallas, Williams' hometown: Jason Kidd's numbers are tailing off for the second straight year, with his shooting percentage at 30 percent and his assist numbers way down.
The Knicks, meanwhile, have struggled out of the gates this year without a true point guard. There also hasn't been any talk of committing long term to veteran Baron Davis, who Al Iannazzone reports may make his debut next week.
As Broussard mentions in his report, the Mavericks, financially, are in the best situation outside of New Jersey to land the star point guard. They have the money to offer Williams a max deal -- money he deserves -- and wouldn't need to work a sign-and-trade, or multi-team deal, to acquire him.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have a ton of cash tied up: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will make over $63 million combined next year, Metta World Peace is scheduled to make $7.3M, and Luke Walton and Steve Blake are each owed millions. There are still several unknowns in play for L.A. -- namely their reported pursuit of Howard -- but they would probably need a third team to pull off a sign-and-trade for Williams.
But as Chris Sheridan noted today on Twitter, the Knicks are 17-20 with Melo and Amar'e in the lineup. And almost half a (standard) season into their marriage, it's no secret that the two have struggled to co-exist: Stoudemire thrives in the pick-and-roll, and Anthony, conversely, is an isolation player. Add in Stoudemire struggling to create offense in the paint because of the presence of Chandler, and the Knicks may consider trying to trade either Stoudemire or Anthony in the offseason for Williams.
Nets management could look at Stoudemire as the central trade piece for Williams, and try to recreate the team the Knicks assembled last year around him -- young shooters, a point guard that can run the pick-and-roll, a team of big men and role players -- and make a playoff run. But would Stoudemire's injury history and huge contract -- he's owed nearly $65 million the next three years -- scare them away? Very possibly.
Melo may make the most sense on both ends. For the Nets, he'd be the perfect superstar to start off in Brooklyn. For New York, it would open the door to team Williams with Stoudemire, which could be a championship-caliber match. But would the Knicks deal their biggest star -- one that they had to give up Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and more for -- after a season and a half?
It's well too early to handicap the race right now, specifically because of the uncertainty of Howard. Could the Mavs or Lakers try to trade for him? Could the Nets, with the array of first round picks in their stable, make another push for him? Plenty has to play out.
Since joining New Jersey, Williams has struggled. After shooting better than 45 percent each season after his rookie year, his shooting percentage has floundered around 35 percent since coming to the Nets. His scoring (18.6) and assist (8.4) numbers are also down from the previous couple of seasons. Much of that has to be attributed to the lack of a supporting cast, though. Keep in mind, the Nets lost Brook Lopez to injury, and rookie MarShon Brooks has been the team's only other reliable scorer.