The Brooklyn Nets’ spendthrift ways could make a lot of point guards very happy in upcoming signing periods.
After Deron Williams threw away the game off an inbounds play in the waning seconds of regulation, point guards like the one in the opposing uniform will look quite hard at Williams’ paycheck.
Kyle Lowry, who possesses a solid but unspectacular game, erupted for 31 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in a narrow 104-103 Raptors win at the Barclays Center Monday night. Lowry is in the final year of his contract, which pays him a little more than $6 million.
Lowry thoroughly outplayed Williams, though. With Williams’ late gaffe notwithstanding, the Nets point guard managed nine points on 4-for-11 shooting to go along with his 11 assists. A pretty mediocre showing for a guard earning $98 million over five years.
The play in question occurred with 17 seconds left in the game. With the Nets ahead 103-102 and a side out, Williams scanned the entire floor to inbound the ball. Williams curiously chose to throw back toward his own basket for a covered Joe Johnson. Patrick Patterson intercepted the pass and initiated a give-and-go with Lowry that led to Patterson’s game-winning jumper with six seconds left.
“I pretty much saw everybody was covered on the first couple of options,” Williams said. “I kind of saw Joe opened but just made a bad pass. ... Nothing I can do now, can’t take it back. It’s not my first time turning the ball over to lose the game and probably won’t be my last so we just got to respond on Friday.”
A turnover at any other point on the floor would have stung less because Williams’ pass left his teammates under the opposing basket. Patterson and Lowry reaped the benefits.
“We tried to get the ball in,” guard Paul Pierce said. “It wasn’t something that was done on purpose. We wanted to get the ball in. They played the play well, got a steal, and made a tough shot.”
Lowry can easily demand a salary increase, as can a handful of other point guards across the league. Stephen Curry ($9.8 million), Goran Dragic ($7.5 million), and Damian Lillard ($3.2 million) have played at an All-Star caliber level in 2013-14 and garner significantly less than Williams.
“He was just attacking,” Williams said. “He was hitting shots, attacking; getting to the line, he was doing it for everybody. He came out and had a great game.”
Williams displays the talent in small doses, but the consistency goes missing for long stretches.
Williams continued to come off the bench for head coach Jason Kidd’s team. Since Williams’ recent string of ankle injuries, the team opted to stick with starting guard Shaun Livingston.
Despite the divisional loss, the Nets will assuredly win the Atlantic unless stricken by another wave of injuries. Although the Raptors played without guard DeMar DeRozan, the Nets played on the second night of a back-to-back. The Nets boast the most talent, but they should considering they spend some $30 million more than the Raptors.
The Nets’ problems raise eyebrows when anticipating series against the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Players like Williams cannot simply coast against stout defensive teams. At some point Williams will need to earn his pay. At the very least, Nets fans must wait another game.