DALLAS -- You might as well take a seat, buckle up and get ready for a wild ride that will occur during the next few days/weeks concerning where Deron Williams and Dwight Howard will take their basketball talents.
First, let's start with Williams, who is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets this weekend and become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. The one-two horse race for Williams' services are the Dallas Mavericks and Nets.
OK, make that a three-horse race, since the Houston Rockets are trying to move everything not batten down to make room for both Williams and Howard.
Unlike Williams, Howard is property of the Orlando Magic -- at least for another year. So, he can't just go and sign with whoever he wants to sign him like Williams can.
This past season Howard kept swaying back-n-forth concerning his basketball future. At one time he wanted to opt out of his contract and join Williams this summer on the unrestricted free agent market.
But Howard surprisingly decided to opt-in and play the 2012'-13 season with the Magic.
However, if the Magic doesn't feel Howard is all-in and want to play for them past the upcoming season, they may cut their losses and trade Howard. Thus, teams are clearing salary cap space and trying to obtain expiring contracts to try and entice the Magic that they have the best package to give them for Howard.
But let's be clear about one thing. It's not etched in stone that wherever Williams goes Howard is sure to follow. This is not a situation where LeBron James and Chris Bosh are getting together to join Dwyane Wade in Miami.
Remember, Williams controls where his next basketball home will be. Howard does not.
Since Williams and his representatives are not talking, no one knows for sure where he'll land.
And forget all those silly odds you read/hear about where Williams will sign. Only two percentage are in play that really matter: Williams will 100 percent sign with one team, and he zero percent won't sign with anyone else.
This will not be an easy decision for Williams, who turn 28 Tuesday. If the talented point guard re-signs with the Nets, he'll receive a five-year contract in the $100 million neighborhood.
If Williams signs with the Mavs or elsewhere, he can only receive a maximum four-year contract for around $75 million.
While the Nets can offer Williams more money, the lure of playing in New York, and the opportunity to make some more mega-bucks through dizzying endorsement deals, he must remember that as far as the NBA goes, the Knicks own New York. Always have, always will.
The Nets in New York will be akin to the Clippers fighting for top billing in Los Angeles with the Lakers. It's just not going to happen.
It's unclear whether Williams doesn't mind being second bananna in New York behind the Knicks. Because that will be his fate if he re-signs with the Nets.
If Williams decides to sign with the Mavs, he will be able to come home and play near where he grew up in The Colony -- a Dallas surburb located about 35 minutes from American Airlines Center. Many of Williams' life-long friends will be able to see him play in person many times, as will his family members.
In the Mavs, Williams can join a team that includes superstar Dirk Nowitzki. With the Nets -- for now -- Williams is the team's lone superstar.
The Mavs also just won the NBA title a year ago, and still have a few pieces left from that championship team.
Plus, there are no state taxes in Texas, which could save Williams a few coins. Also, Williams can become a free agent -- again -- sooner if he signs with the Mavs than he can if he signs with the Nets.
As of now, Williams probably hasn't decided where he'll be playing basketball next season. It's a tough choice for him to make at this stage of his career.
So, take a seat, buckle up and get ready for a wild ride. The rumor mill is just getting started.
-- Dwain Price
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