Saturday, July 19, 2008

Face of the Franchi$e

While this post may be slightly late, it's getting here just in time -- similar to Deron Williams' signing with the Utah Jazz. (Which he did at 4 pm Eastern Time, on July 18th, 2008)

Deron signs as Jerry smiles and Kevin throws up gang signs

Photographed by Tom Smart, Deseret News

Deron Williams stands to become a very rich man in his time playing for the Jazz. His new contract extension follows the script for franchise players on other teams (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, etc); Deron's being identical in some primary terms to the deal that Chris Paul received. It runs for three years, plus a 4th year as a player's option for the max.

"Williams said he talked to Carmelo Anthony (four years plus an option) and LeBron James (three years plus an option) about their extensions and went back and forth before going with his gut feeling for the three-year deal plus an option," (Siler, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2008).

Understandably, the end of the 3rd year will coincide with the the end of Deron's 7th year in the league. At this stage of seniority he is eligible for a raise that would be worth 30% of the total NBA Salary cap at that point in time -- as opposed to what he's currently earning, somewhere between 20 and 25 %. How much money are we talking here? Next season (2008-2009) is the last year of his original Rookie deal, after that it balloons up significantly:

2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
$5,069,449 $13,758,000 $15,202,590 $16,647,180 $18,091,770

This data is an approximation derived from massive sleuth work from the good people at, and while not being 100% accurate, probably a lot more accurate than Diebold machines. The last season (2012-2013) is a player's option that Deron will probably opt out on for, potentially, his last really large contract in his career. As it currently stands, Deron will never be the top earning player on the Jazz until 2012-2013, as Andrei is another max player who will earn a whopping $17,823,000 in 2010-2011, and Carlos Boozer and/or Mehmet Okur will probably rake in the most in 2011-2012.

Not only is Deron finally being paid his value, but the franchise is bound to acquiesce with his roster demands. This issue seems obvious, especially since the Jazz Brass is giving him free reign to assist and influence how things are run in this organization:

"Williams trusts O'Connor to keep surrounding him with talent, and he's also willing to play point guard on and off the floor - whether that means persuading forward Carlos Boozer to stay beyond next season, advising O'Connor about players around the league when asked and helping to attract free agents," (Kragthorpe, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2008).

"I think I can do a good job of recruiting guys . . . try to get 'em here, try to get over that stereotype that Utah's not a great place to live." (Deron Williams, via the Salt Lake Tribune, 2008)

However, the Jazz are not always in the mood to appease star players -- Utah never put out a roster full of other Duke players, or Russians or Turkish basketball talent. University of Illinois team mates on Deron's NCAA Finalist team did not last long in Utah -- Dee Brown lasted two Rocky Mountain Reviews; Roger Powell Jr. only one for the Jazz.

Deron, Dee and Roger . . .

Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Roger Powell Jr.

That said, lately Deron has called for more defense, and for the coaches to give deserving players more time. The Jazz recently drafted Ohio State center Kosta Koufos -- a player probably known more for his ability to hit 18 foot jumpers than for being a inside defensive force. Deron suggests that:

"He just needs to rebound, and defend, and block shots. That's what we really need." (Deron Williams, via the Deseret News, 2008)

This isn't the first time Deron has been vocal about these matters -- the first big experience with this type of leadership occurred after the Jazz were defeated in 5 games in the Western Conference Finals by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in 2006-2007. During those playoffs Deron also suggested that older players (perhaps Harpring and Kirilenko) should have played less while younger ones (Brewer and Millsap) should have been on the court for a bit more.

Deron Williams and reserve Paul Millsap in the 2006-2007 NBA Playoffs C.J. Miles and Deron Williams at Andrei Kirilenko's New Year's party on December 31st, 2007

C.J. Miles, a noted fried of Williams, may be on his way out. To this Deron has said:

"I want him back here in the baddest way. I think he can be a great player for us if he gets the opportunity. I don't think he's ever been really given an opportunity to come in and prove himself," (Deron Williams, via the Salt Lake Tribune, 2008).

Deron has shown Utah that he takes them seriously -- he's gone on record to say that he "loves it [in Utah], and lives there full-time," (Deron Williams, via 1320 K-Fan, 2008). Now it is time for Kevin O'Connor, Jerry Sloan and the rest of the Jazz brass to show Deron that they feel the same about the new face of their franchi$e.