Nets Pick Up Pieces Left Behind By Dwight

ORLANDO — It was a schedule-maker’s cruel idea, putting the Nets in Orlando the day after Dwight Howard officially broke their hearts. But there they were, unloading themselves from the team bus for the morning practice, stepping inside Amway Center feeling a bit emptier, and certainly in no hurry to see Howard on the home bench later in the evening.

“We’ll survive,” said Nets coach Avery Johnson.

Had Dwight had a change of heart for the 4,576th time Thursday and refused to return to Orlando for at least one more year, the scene at the Amway Center would be totally different. The building, not even two years old yet, would resemble … well, Prudential Center in Newark, the soon-to-be vacated home of the Nets. Without Dwight, the energy surely would’ve been sucked from a team that’s sitting in third place in the East, and a franchise that’s one of the best-run in the NBA.

Basically, the Magic would’ve turned into the Nets.

One player made all the difference.

That’s what makes the NBA unique. Stars can make or break a team. You don’t see stars carrying as much clout in the NFL, or major league baseball, where the team aspect is greater. In the NBA, you rarely see a team win a championship without a franchise player. Mostly, a team needs two to even entertain the thought of grabbing a trophy in June. And that’s why Howard flip-flopped the last few months, wondering if he needed to follow the AAU-ization of the NBA, where players team up for the sake of sipping champagne.

The indecision of Howard not only weighed on the Magic, but the Nets, who had good reason to believe they were in the ballgame. Deron Williams was on board for the trip to Brooklyn, and the Nets had cap room and a solid rookie in MarShon Brooks and also Brook Lopez, who can score a lot better than he can rebound. Finally, they had Mikhail Prokhorov, a billionaire owner who’s even wealthier than Orlando’s Rich DeVos and eager to make a splash next season.

But Howard is staying and now the next decision is up to Williams, who insisted he does not “flip-flop” and will not exercise his option for next season, at least not just yet.

“He made the decision that’s best for him. I can’t be mad about that,” Williams said. “I can’t worry about Dwight Howard. I’ve got to worry about Deron Williams. I haven’t flip-flopped and gone back and forth. It’s not even close to being the same situation as him. I’m just going to play out this year and see what happens.”

While Williams was disappointed to see Howard stay loyal to Orlando — the two have had many heart-to-heart talks the last few months — it doesn’t necessarily mean Williams is gone next summer. An intriguing offer will await from his hometown Dallas Mavericks, who can offer Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban‘s millions. But Williams enjoys living in Manhattan and has the keys to the Nets franchise. He can dominate all the promotional buzz during the transition from New Jersey to New York without dealing with the same kind of fallout that Carmelo Anthony is getting with the Knicks. Because, although the Nets will be considered a New York team, they will not be the New York team, at least for a while.

Williams can sign a maximum deal with the Nets and demand an early escape clause of his own, perhaps after two seasons. And then if he’s not feeling “loyal” to the Nets by then, he can make demands and plot his own escape if he so chooses. That depends on the Nets and if they can surround Williams with enough quality teammates to keep him happy, or to use a trendy buzzword these days, keep his “loyalty.”


  1. karo iyash says:

    @diehardnet fan so u think Dwill is staying for Crash Wallace & Blopez instead of a champion in Dirk & coincidentally Dallas being is home town hahahaha…. anyways im not a fan of any of the teams except ATL HAWKS…
    Lets Go Hawks

  2. hahah nets says:

    where all the nets fans???? the keep saying they will be knicks killer blah blah. well good luck enjoying empty seats in brookyln next year cuz u won’t even have D-will next year. seriously what were u guys thinking? they are the nets, even if they get LBJ they won’t be knicks killer, Hearts of NY belong to knicks. you tried with DR.J once and still knicks are the team in NY. what were you guys thinking? knicks gonna worry about you and Brooklyn? MSG and knicks are as big ad Celtics and Lakers in basketball world. nets can’t do a thing to change the popularity of knicks and hearts of new yorker. phh…… nets….haha what were they thinking….haha you might have better chance going to Seattle to win the fans heart

  3. RR says:

    NBA MVP Race is Bogus!Guys come on now! We the people see the race is fix to prevent Kobe Bryant winning and Lebron from losing! Lebron should be in 4th place, The Heat can win without LJ. Bosh and the rest of the Heat team can play just as well or better without Leron. They don’t need him! He needs them!The race is fix for LJ to win. The Real MVP is Kobe Bryant, he is running circles arround Lebron James. But the MVP race it fix so he can’t win. You guys are giving the NBA bogus image. The MVP race is FIX! We expect you people to be fair and impartial Not totally bogus!

  4. DIE HARD NET FAN says:

    Dwights the reel ******************** dont make it sound like ur comin the full dam season till 2 hours bfore trade deadline to leave for billy king to make the nets representable and to give a reason for dwill to stay!!!! now what wallace an lopez r gonna atract him more then dirk and his hometown