- Posted: 7:30 PM, July 15, 2012
But the fact that Watson was willing to take less money to play for the Nets could mark a change in the way the franchise is viewed around the league, and could prove to be a much more significant development.
In the past, no one would have considered to take less money to play for the Nets – especially the past two seasons, when the Nets have struggled mightily and played in front of understandably depressed crowds in Newark.
Watson had options to play somewhere next season for more money after performing well last season as a backup, and capable fill-in, for Derrick Rose in Chicago. But his agent, Jared Karnes, told me Saturday night that Watson decided to play for the Nets for the veteran’s minimum because of the situation the team is in.
“You’ve got a player with that experience who’s demonstrated the capability to lead the team in a major market, and he’s willing to make a financial sacrifice for something he believes in,” Karnes said. “He believes in the Brooklyn Nets … we’re 100 percent behind them.”
There have been few times in recent years that players would have believed enough in what the Nets were doing to turn down more money to play for them. But things are starting to change for the franchise, now that it has moved inside of the city limits and – much more importantly – have stocked the roster with a talented group of veterans, led by Williams and Joe Johnson in the backcourt, giving the Nets a chance to make a deep playoff run next spring.
Ray Allen took less money to go to Miami not only because of whatever issues he was having in Boston, but because he felt Miami gave him a great chance to win another championship. Players have done similar things to go to teams like the Spurs, Bulls and Lakers in the past, teams that they knew had a chance to play for something late into the playoffs.
The Nets aren’t on the level of being a championship contender yet – they still have more work to do to catch the Heat in the East. But they’ve begun to change their image around the league, and become a place that players want to come and play, and potentially even do so at a discount.
As they try to move into the league’s elite, that’s an important step in the right direction.