Deron Williams wanted out of Brooklyn and the Nets could not think up a single reason to refuse to accommodate his request. After reports came out on Thursday that the two were working on a buyout deal that would allow Williams to sever ties with the franchise and play with an organization more to his liking, on Friday, it was first reported by David Aldridge of TNT Sports and then later confirmed by Marc Stein of ESPN.com that the two sides had reached a buyout deal agreement, one that will see the Nets pay Williams $27.5 million over the next five seasons. Now once Williams clears waivers, he will be free to sign with any one of the other franchises who would like to retain his services — most likely, the Dallas Mavericks — and the Nets will be ridding themselves of a player who no longer wanted to be involved with the franchise.
As soon as it became clear that Williams was on his way out of Brooklyn, the organization no longer had any incentive to keep under wraps all the altercations that cast Williams in a negative light, and on the heels of the first inkling that he wished to be a free agent forthwith, a report was released by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that last season, Williams and head coach Lionel Hollins had to be physically restrained from attacking each other during an airing of grievances. And in making sure that anecdote made it to the public consciousness, the Nets absolved themselves of a lot of responsibility in why Williams would not want to finish out the final two years of a contract. After all, the Nets could say look at the way he could not get along with the head coach; of course the franchise could not continue to employ a player who was such a volatile presence and could not get along with the head coach; Williams’s clashes with other head coaches also helps in painting him as the villain.
Of course, players and head coaches get into disputes frequently — in some instances, even more heated than the one Williams and Hollins were said to be in — without a player angling for a buyout deal, but Williams helped bring the situation to a head by being eminently expendable. He was never the point guard the Nets hoped he would be after they acquired him in a mid-season trade from the Utah Jazz during the 2011-12 season and then lavished him with a five-year, $99 million contract in the 2012 offsesason and has been in steady decline for the past three seasons. So not only was Williams difficult to work with, but he did not even have the decency to at least play like the franchise star the Nets were paying him to be. Not being better made it much easier for the Nets to finish out the process of closing the book on this mediocre-filled chapter of the franchise’s existence.
Williams’s exodus from the Nets will not be the end of the dismantling of the squad. With the roster that was constructed by the Nets to take the NBA by storm having been so disappointing in so many ways, there is still one more name to go before the Nets finally shed themselves of the players who never lived up to expectations: Joe Johnson. And there are already strong indications that Johnson will soon be calling another team home. Moving on from Williams and perhaps trading Johnson to the Cleveland Cavaliers will not make the team better — in fact, the Nets will be a horror show to watch next season — but it will at least keep the Nets management from having to look at the faces of players who betrayed them by not being better at basketball.