Deron Williams had one stellar playoff game for the Nets, scoring 35 points during an incredible throwback performance that temporarily silenced all of his doubters.
But the resurgence was short-lived.
Williams came crashing back to reality in the games that followed, scoring just 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting combined in his team’s final two contests, both of which were losses to the Hawks that resulted in Brooklyn’s elimination from the postseason.
The Nets need to make changes in order to compete next season, but two contracts in particular seem to have them stuck. Joe Johnson has one year and close to $25 million remaining on his contract, while Williams possesses one even worse.
He’s owed $43 million guaranteed over the next two years, and Brooklyn could get out from under that by using the stretch provision to buy Williams out. But that reportedly isn’t in the team’s plans as free agency approaches.
But a buyout of Williams, while potentially saving the Nets millions of dollars via the “stretch” provision, is not in the cards. The Nets are not interested in giving Williams $43 million to not play. The intriguing question is whether the Nets can deal Joe Johnson and his expiring contract, at $24.8 million next season. For one year, even at that price, Johnson would have suitors.
Devin Kharpertian at The Brooklyn Game broke down exactly how much could be saved by cutting Williams loose.
The primary reason the Nets should do this would be to remain out of repeater-tax territory. The team has claimed to be intent on re-signing Brook Lopez (which would almost certainly require a deal approaching the max), and plans to retain Thaddeus Young, as well — who has a player option for $10.2 million, unless he chooses free agency. Those two moves, with the rest of the current contracts still in place, would push the Nets over next year’s tax line somewhat certainly.
If Brooklyn can shed Joe Johnson’s deal in trade, then paying Williams to go away might not be necessary. That could be the plan for now, which would make sense given the team’s current stance that Williams won’t be bought out anytime soon.