Does no Dwight Howard mean no Deron Williams for the Nets? Williams has said he wants to continue to play for the Nets, but the point guard also stated he wasn’t going to waive the opt-out clause in his deal.

Howard waived his opt-out clause last week and will remain with Orlando through the 2012-2013 season. That move precludes the Nets from making a run at Howard in the offseason as a free agent. It doesn’t mean the Nets won’t try and trade for Howard, but Orlando is unlikely to move him now.

Where does this leave the Nets? GM Billy King made a shrewd pre-emptive move last week by acquiring Gerald Wallace for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a first-round draft pick. Wallace is certainly an upgrade over Okur and Williams, and he could form a decent trio with Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez, though Lopez is out with an ankle injury.

The question is, do the Nets have enough time to make a playoff run? The Nets fell to six and a half games out of the final playoff spot after Monday’s 105-100 loss to the Cavaliers. The Nets hosted Washington last night (Wednesday).

Williams didn’t talk with reporters after Monday’s game. While that doesn’t mean he’s made up his mind to leave the Nets, it could mean they have a long way to go in convincing him Brooklyn is the right place to be.

We’ll keep repeating this until Williams resigns with the Nets: He is the key to what direction-up or down-the Nets go in the standings the next few years. Wallace, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds on Monday, has a player option for next season worth $11.4 million. His return will be key for the Nets, especially if they can’t keep Humphries, who will become a free agent this summer.

Yes, the Nets are in a very complicated web, but there is light at the end of the tunnel that leads to Brooklyn.