The New Jersey Nets are telling teams that they absolutely, positively will not move Deron Williams before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline even if Dwight Howard goes through with his stated intention to lock himself into the 2012-13 season of his current contract with the Orlando Magic.
Sources with knowledge of New Jersey’s thinking told ESPN.com on Thursday morning that the Nets’ position won’t change even if the Los Angeles Lakers offer them Pau Gasol in a package for Williams before the deadline.
The Lakers are known to want an elite point guard if they’re going to part with Gasol … and the fact that Orlando will apparently not be trading Howard theoretically gives L.A. an opening to make an 11th-hour run at Williams.
But sources said that the Lakers actually offered Gasol to the Nets in December for Williams and were rejected.
The Lakers will get the same answer if a Gasol-centric offer for D-Will comes in before the trade buzzer, according to the sources.
The Nets remain active leading up to the deadline, but their apparent plan is to continue to stockpile salary-cap space and draft picks to try to have as many trade assets as possible in June to make another trade run at Howard or another star in conjunction with the draft … before D-Will can opt out and become a free agent July 1.