Deron Williams 'nervous' about Nets

Updated: February 25, 2011, 11:00 AM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Deron Williams won't consider signing a contract extension with the Nets this summer. But the two-time All-Star said Thursday there is a "strong possibility" that he would eventually sign a new deal with New Jersey.

"It all depends on how the next year goes," Williams said during his introductory news conference at the Nets' practice facility.

Williams can become a free agent after next season if he opts out of the final year of his current contract.

He can't begin negotiating an extension with the Nets until July 18, 2011. That date might change, with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire June 30 and a potential lockout looming.

The former Utah Jazz point guard said the new CBA will affect his decision. He also said he would base his decision on other players the Nets acquire over the next 18 months.

"I'm just looking forward to the opportunity right now," said Williams, who was joined by general manager Billy King and coach Avery Johnson. "I can't really give any assurances or say that I'll be here when I don't know what the future holds. I look forward to the possibility of [staying with the Nets]. It's definitely a strong possibility."

Williams is well aware that there will be constant speculation about his future.

"It's going to be a tough situation and it's going to be a tough year. There's so much that can go on between now and 2012 to even really discuss it," Williams said. "I won't know what I'm going to do until then ... So I can't give you guys an answer until then. The easiest way will just be to go out and play basketball and not worry about it."

The Nets acquired Williams from the Jazz on Wednesday in exchange for guard Devin Harris, forward Derrick Favors, two first-round picks and cash.

The trade became official on Thursday afternoon, after all the players involved passed their physicals. Williams will make his Nets debut Friday in San Antonio.

Williams said on Thursday that he was surprised to find out about the trade. He first learned the news while watching ESPN's "SportsCenter."

"I was just shocked. It was very unexpected," said Williams, who was in the middle of his sixth season with the Jazz. "When you don't hear any rumors and all of a sudden you're getting treatment with your teammates and you learn that you just got traded. It's an initial shock."

Williams was also alarmed by the fact that he was headed to a team in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about a team that was 17-40," he said.

But conversations with King after the trade quelled his fear. He said King talked to him about "the direction that he wanted to go in and the players that he's looking forward to going after."

Williams was so convinced by King that he talked about the possibility of the Nets making the playoffs. Entering play Thursday night, New Jersey was in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, 9½ games behind eighth-place Indiana.

Williams is also intrigued about the Nets' planned move to Brooklyn after next season.

"That alone is going to draw fans ... and players to come to this organization and I look forward to being a part of that," he said.

Williams took some heat this month for the retirement of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. The two had disagreed during halftime of a home loss to the Bulls on Feb. 9. Sloan retired the next day.

Williams said Thursday that he didn't think any disagreements he had with Sloan led to the coach's decision to retire.

"I loved Coach Sloan, I respected him. I respected everything that he's done over the course of his career. He's a Hall of Fame coach. He's done a lot for me over my career," Williams said. "We bumped heads on occasion. And it was, I guess, the wrong time to do it. But I don't think in any way, shape or form that I led him out of Utah or urged him out. I definitely never talked to management or told anybody it was either him or me or any case like that. It's just sad that he had to go out like that."

Johnson was quick to point out that whatever happened between Sloan and Williams "will not have any effect on our relationship."

The Nets swung the deal two days after they failed in their pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, who was sent to the Knicks in a 13-player, three-team deal completed on Tuesday.

King and Johnson are hoping that Williams can become a selling point for future free agents. Williams said he'd embrace that role.

"That's really what it's about," King said. "It's about building something, having somebody that they want to play with. And he's a guy that people want to play with because he makes them a lot better."

New Jersey has been desperate to make its first score under new owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The Nets talked with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh last summer and when that failed, the Nets turned their attention to Anthony. They quickly bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on him with Williams.

"This is about dissolving a team that won 12 games [last season] and assembling a team that in the future can compete for a championship. And Deron is going to be a major part of that," Johnson said.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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