Next season, Deron Williams will make a cool $16.4 million. The year after that he will make a cool $17.8 million to lead the Utah Jazz — if he picks up his player option.
Utah has been a frustrating place for Williams this season. They started out the season hot, as the cardiac kids winning all the close games. But that caught up with Utah. It has lost four in a row and the team has not been able to find a consistent footing all campaign, which led Williams to drop this line on David Aldridge of NBA.com:
“My contract’s up in two years. It’s a now or never situation. I don’t know what I’m going to do after this one.”
That is not quite a Carmelo Anthony level warning, more like a pre-warning that things are headed that direction. More Chris Paul telling the Hornets to get it together or he would push his way out.
Next season Williams could do what ‘Melo has done this year — tell the Jazz that he will opt out and will not re-sign in Utah. He’ll be low key if he does, but he is too big a star for something like that to stay low key. So could Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard has an early termination option on his deal. In an era where superstars are trying to combine and work some of that out themselves, there is a lot in play.
The warning should scare Utah to its core. This is a small market franchise that does not have the money to spend to build a Lakers-like team. They couldn’t keep Carlos Boozer last summer. They lost Kyle Korver and Wes Mathews. And while the roster has been rebuilt with some decent players — Al Jefferson, rookie Gordan Haywood — they are not the same.
What may be Utah’s one ace in the hole the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — nobody knows what it will look like, but there could be things that help Utah. The money for a max deal may be so much less than the $17.8 he is scheduled to make that he decides to stay for at least another year. Maybe there are franchise tags. Maybe a lot of things.
But right now, D-Will is not thrilled with his team and that could be the first steps in a long, painful march for the Jazz and its fans.