Free agent point guard Deron Williams has narrowed down his options to the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks, but recent events suggest the Nets have the upper hand over his hometown team.
CBS Sports reported that Mavericks executives are increasingly worried that the All-Star point guard will stay with the Nets when the free-agent floodgates open Sunday.
Williams has played with the Nets for the past two seasons after being traded from the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, and two first-round draft picks. He lives in New York, is intrigued by the idea of being the franchise player to open the team's new arena in Brooklyn, but wants to play for a championship contender.
The Mavericks might be able to offer a better chance at winning a title by pairing Williams with Dirk Nowitzki, but the Nets can offer Williams more money and have cap room to pursue a major free agent in the future.
The Nets can offer Williams a five-year, $100 million deal, while the Mavericks can only offer a four-year, $74 million contract, according to CBS Sports.
That extra money plus the team's willingness to let Williams have input in roster decisions could sway the 28-year-old to stay in Brooklyn. He has a strong relationship with Nets general manager Billy King and invited coach Avery Johnson to a small birthday party on Tuesday night. The Nets also bought Williams a massive birthday billboard, perhaps a ploy to remind Williams how much the team believes in him.
ESPN reported that Williams has also frequently worked out at the Nets' practice facility, with Johnson occasionally present. It is possible that Williams is preparing to dagger the Nets before jumping ship to the Mavericks, but it appears he is very comfortable with the Nets and is leaning towards resigning with them.
The Nets are also aggressively pursuing a trade with the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard. The team has shown a willingness to revamp the roster in order to please Williams, who reportedly would like to play alongside Howard.
Howard has stated a desire to play in Brooklyn, as well, but opted-in to another year with the Magic. The Magic will likely trade him, but it's unclear whether the Nets have the necessary parts to acquire Howard.