This is the first in a series of profiles focusing on this year’s free-agent class.
Deron Williams, point guard
Most recent team: New Jersey Nets (moving to Brooklyn next season)
Type of free agent: Player option, Unrestricted
Positives: Well, we are talking about the most talented candidate in the free-agent pool. Even if the Lakers upgraded at point guard this season by acquiring Ramon Sessions, his shaky postseason play and Williams’ superior talent still makes him a worthy candidate for the Lakers back court.
Most point guards are measured on their speed, both with how they execute pick-and-rolls and drives to the basket. But in Williams’ case, he excels in those areas because of his size and power. In a weird way, this might actually suit the Lakers better since they often implored Sessions to slow the pace to ensure high productivity from Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Because Williams doesn’t generate much offense in transition, he’d be much more suited at running the Lakers’ preferred methodical tempo. Add in Williams’ heftier playoff experience, and it’s a no-brainer the Lakers would want the three-time All-Star.
Negatives: I’ll break down the likelihood on the Lakers actually securing Williams, which remains a challenge. But should the Lakers somehow land him, there aren’t a lot of negatives. According to NBA Stats Cube, Williams only made 30% of his mid-range jumpers, an area of concern considering that double-teams on Bryant and Bynum (if he’s still there) would give him plenty of open looks. And because Williams remained the primary offensive option with Utah and New Jersey, there would also be an adjustment period on how he and Bryant would play off each other. Those issues are pretty minimal, though.
Verdict: Williams took to Twitter, disputing a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski that quoted unnamed league sources saying the Nets guard will only stay if the team acquires Magic center Dwight Howard in a trade. Meanwhile, Hoopsworld’s Alex Raskin quotes other league sources as saying that Williams hasn’t made such demands. Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick also talks to an unnamed source close to Williams who said Williams would seriously consider becoming Brooklyn’s first star but that but he needs to see enough roster changes that would ensure a successful season.
As far as the Lakers go, fans out here shouldn’t hold their breath, since the only way to secure Williams involves a sign-and-trade. Numerous reports indicate a Williams-for-Pau Gasol deal is unlikely, and New Jersey would have to be really stupid to pull such a move. Gasol remains a solid No. 2 option, but he wouldn’t make a good candidate to carry the franchise. That’s why I like the proposal by ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard that the Lakers trade Bynum and Sessions for Williams and Brook Lopez. Even if Bynum is vastly superior to Lopez, the Lakers’ center remained unpredictable with his effort. Meanwhile, Lopez proves serviceable enough that the Lakers aren’t completely giving up their size to bolster the backcourt.
Regardless, I don’t see Williams coming to the Lakers. He’s more likely to stay in Brooklyn or go to Dallas, which has more cap space.
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