The inevitable has happened for the Brooklyn Nets with elite point guard Deron Williams officially declining his $17.7 million player option for next season according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News via Twitter:
Deron Williams officially did not opt into his contract
— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) June 27, 2012
As a result of the declined player option, Williams become a free agent as of July 1.
There’s been plenty of speculation about the immediate future of the superstar and potential teams that he may sign with before next season. Even though the Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest in acquiring Williams via sign-and-trade, the perennial All-Star has reportedly narrowed his free agent options down to the Nets and the Dallas Mavericks.
With the Nets able to sign Williams to a long-term contract worth as much as $100 million, Brooklyn has the clear advantage to retain the 28-year-old heading into the NBA’s free agency period. Reports have begun to surface that Williams is leaning towards staying in Brooklyn.
As for the Mavs, Dallas still has a good chance to sign one of the league’s best point guards with a long-term offer of as much as $80 million. Along with the high-dollar amount, Williams might be intrigued with the prospect of playing in his hometown and alongside future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki.
Obviously, chances of winning an NBA title with the Mavs over the course of a long-term deal is much greater than it would be with the Nets. Brooklyn has been trying to acquire superstar center Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic over the past year or so in order to convince Williams to stay and give the team a much better opportunity to compete in the Eastern Conference, but landing Howard via trade may continue to be difficult for the Nets with no trade assets that intrigue the Magic’s front office.
The Lakers on the other hand may continue to keep looking for ways to lure Williams to Los Angeles. With no means to sign Williams as a free agent, the Lakers only hope of bringing him to Los Angeles is with a sign-and-trade that will most likely result in sending Andrew Bynum to Brooklyn with the Nets showing little interest in acquiring Pau Gasol.