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Williams Says He’s Not Sure He Wants to Be on Nets Long-Term

Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz was traded to the New Jersey Nets. Photographer: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz was traded to the New Jersey Nets. Photographer: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Deron Williams said he is unwilling to give any assurances about signing a long-term contract with the New Jersey Nets, although he’s excited to be the newest member of the franchise.

Williams, a two-time All-Star point guard, was traded yesterday from the Utah Jazz for rookie Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick in the 2010 National Basketball Association draft; guard Devin Harris; and first-round draft selections in 2011 and 2012.

Williams can opt out of his contract before the 2012-13 season, when the Nets are scheduled to move to a new arena in the Brooklyn.

He said today that he was impressed New Jersey would give up so much to acquire him and that there is a “strong possibility” he’ll be with the franchise in the long term. He said he plans to see how the next season unfolds before making any decisions.

“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity right now,” Williams said today at his introductory news conference at the Nets’ training facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. “I can’t really give any assurances or say that I’ll be here, when I don’t know what the future holds.”

Williams said he found out about his trade to the Nets the same way many fans did, by watching television. Initial media reports suggested he wasn’t happy about the move.

“It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy, I was just shocked,” Williams said. “It was very unexpected. You don’t hear any rumors and then all of the sudden you’re getting treatment with your teammates and you learn that you just got traded.”

Missing Anthony

The move came after New Jersey lost out on acquiring Denver Nuggets’ All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who instead was traded to the New York Knicks, the Nets’ rivals who play at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

New Jersey responded with the acquisition of Williams, while surrendering less than they were offering for Anthony.

Nets General Manager Billy King said he talked to Kevin O’Connor, the vice president of basketball operations for the Jazz, the day after missing out on Anthony. Discussions for Williams began then and by the following morning the teams had agreed to terms.

“He was the one guy I knew we needed to have on our roster,” King said.

Williams will make his debut for the Nets -- wearing No. 8 -- tomorrow at the San Antonio Spurs. His first game at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, is Feb. 28 against the Phoenix Suns.

Williams is averaging 21.3 points and 9.7 assists per game this season. The assist total ranks third in the NBA behind the Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo and Suns’ Steve Nash.

‘Nervous’ About Nets

The Nets, 17-40 this season, last made the playoffs in 2007.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little nervous going to a team that was 17-40,” Williams said. “That was my first process. Once I talked to Billy, it reassured how committed they were and got me excited.”

Anthony signed a contract extension before his move to New York. Williams, 26, would be owed $17.8 million for 2012-13 if he doesn’t terminate his contract after next season,, according to the New York Times. He’s not eligible to sign a contract extension until after the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with its players union expires on June 30. The next labor accord may include financial incentives to players or protections for teams such as a “franchise tag” to keep star players from opting for free agency.

“I’m going to wait and see how the next season goes, and from there I’ll decide,” Williams said.

Williams, selected third in the 2005 draft out of the University of Illinois, has averaged 17.3 points and 9.1 assists a game during his NBA career. He was named to the past two All-Star Games.

Williams said he had yet to speak to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who King said was heli-skiing in Vancouver.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in East Rutherford, New Jersey, at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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