Around the Nets: It Was Not A Dream, Deron Williams Did Re-Sign With the Brooklyn Nets

  • Howard Beck, on the wonder of it all: “After months of suspense and second-guessing, Williams — a slick-passing, high-scoring, All-Star guard — declared Tuesday night that he would sign with the Nets, ensuring that the franchise will be competitive and compelling when it moves to Brooklyn next fall. The message — “Made a very tough decision today” — popped onto Twitter timelines at 7:03 p.m., from Williams’s verified account. An image of the Nets’ newly redesigned black-and-white shield logo appeared below the words. He made the decision official three minutes earlier, in a phone call to Nets General Manager Billy King, who staked his tenure on a risky trade for Williams 17 months ago. … At the time of the deal, the Nets were living a temporary existence in Newark, having abandoned their longtime home in East Rutherford and were playing in a half-empty arena. They lost a franchise-record 70 games the season before Williams arrived. By staying, Williams vindicated King’s bold vision, and pledged his faith in the front office’s ability to build a contender.”

  • Ian O’Connor, Hailing the King: “So maybe the best trade the Nets ever made, or the best since Rod Thorn sent Stephon Marbury to Phoenix for Jason Kidd, is the trade of lightweight Bruce Ratner for the heavy-hitting Prokhorov, who dismisses the luxury tax as a lunchtime tip. Whatever. King knew he couldn’t go marching into Brooklyn with Johnson as his biggest star. He knew he had to bring back Williams, and that Prokhorov would’ve made a move for his job — sooner rather than later — if he didn’t. “If it went the other way Billy and the whole organization would’ve been killed,” said one league source with knowledge of King’s talks with Williams. “The easy thing would’ve been to call around and trade Deron during the season, trade him to the Lakers for (Pau) Gasol and just say, ‘With the ship sinking let’s try to save as many people as possible.’ “But instead Billy pushed all his cards to the middle of the table, and it took a lot of (guts) to do that. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do it if I were him.” Williams met with Nets officials Monday in Manhattan. He also met with his hometown Dallas Mavericks, who didn’t bring their owner, Mark Cuban, along for the recruiting ride, a fact that surprised and delighted the Nets. Prokhorov wasn’t around for his team’s presentation, either (he was represented in the room by his aide, Dmitry Razumov), but in the end he didn’t need to be. Williams arrived at the Nets’ training facility Tuesday around 9:30 a.m., arrived in his yellow Lamborghini. He worked out and then talked strategy with team officials, a sign that this was going to be a very good day for the Nets.”

  • Matt Moore, on the Brooklyn cool: “Playing for the Lakers? The coolest. That’s why you’ve seen players take paycuts to don the purple and gold. Playing for the Knicks? Cool, despite their lack of on-court success. Playing for Boston? Cool, because of the history and classic iconic nature of the team. But the Nets? They were not cool. Not even a little bit. Not even when they were making Finals appearances in the early 2000′s. They were the TCBY of NBA teams. But now, not just with the Mad Russian owner, or HOVA as minority owner, and a new arena in Brooklyn, but with all that and superstar talent, the Nets are cool. And that has value to players. They want the winning, and they want the money, and they want to feel cool while doing it. The Milwaukee Bucks may never win another title because of this dynamic, and the fact that the Spurs have won four despite not being cool in any way, shape, or form, is more impressive. The Nets have a Big 3. Unless they get Dwight Howard, which is looking unlikely, they won’t be better than many of the other Big 3′s (but they are on par with New York, maybe better, which is important), and their future prospects get worse with Joe Johnson’s contract swallowing up all light in their cap universe. But they’re in the conversation. They’ll be able to attract those free agents looking to take a discount to compete for a title. They are a big ticket item. For years, the Nets have been frustrated with being a joke. But now? They’re the awkward kids who went through a growth spurt and now everyone’s starting to notice them. Cool.”

  • Sebastian Pruiti, on how it will work: “Brook Lopez is also a very good passer out of the post. People seem to forget about him — maybe it’s because he missed 61 games this year due to injury or because nobody can stop talking about Dwight Howard — but he is a very good player in his own right. He’s an effective scorer out of the post, overcoming the constant double teams. He hasn’t previously played with someone to alleviate the post pressure, but Joe Johnson can be that guy. Two seasons ago, Lopez posted a PPP of 0.960, good enough to place him in the top 23 percent of all NBA players. He often draws a double team, but fortunately he is a willing passer. With the new acquisition on the other end of that post entry pass, everything is easier for the Nets. If the defense continues to double Lopez, he has an easy pass to an open Johnson. If the defense stays home, Lopez now has room to work with in the post. In addition to Johnson’s work off of the basketball, because he is comfortable with the ball in his hands Williams can continue to work off the ball, which he did a fair amount last season. Williams shot 38.5 percent coming off of screens (42.9 percent when coming off of screens to his left). He tended to put the ball in a teammate’s hands, go to the block, and get open off of a pin-down screen.”

  • John Hollinger, on the Brooklyn Nets’ uphill climb to add Dwight Howard (Insider): “Perhaps Williams opted to take less money to give the Nets a bit more wiggle room, but everybody is reporting that’s not the case. Perhaps Teletovic’s deal isn’t for quite the full midlevel exception. Or perhaps the Evans deal won’t go through. But as things have been reported, the Nets are a few ducats short of pulling off any Howard trade, let alone a good Howard trade that might actually entice Orlando. Brooklyn can’t take back any other contracts, not even a Chris Duhon- or Quentin Richardson-sized one. Because recently signed players can’t be packaged in a trade for two months, the absolute best Brooklyn can offer is sign-and-trading its three free agents, Brooks and three first-round picks. And I greatly doubt that trumps the other offers that will be coming Orlando’s way. Even that sliver of hope goes out the window the second anybody signs Lopez to an offer sheet, which will preclude the Nets from sign-and-trading him to Orlando. With Brooklyn also being capped out for the foreseeable future, it pretty much closes the door on Howard going there as a free agent in 2013, which was his other endgame.”

  • Zach Lowe, on today’s Brooklyn Nets: “I would expect the Nets to be a top-four seed in an Eastern Conference going through some flux from top-to-bottom, at least outside of Miami. … The Nets will score. Defense will define whether they are a fun second-round out or something more. On paper, this is a shaky defensive team, especially inside, where Lopez has zero track record of rebounding the ball, protecting the rim and defending in space against the pick-and-roll. Humphries can block shots and rebound like a beast, but he struggles at containing things above the foul line. Williams is average for his position. Teletovic is known in Europe as an offense-first player. Evans is a force on the boards and showed more post defense against Memphis in last season’s playoffs than we have seen from him in a while, but he has a longer track record of poor positioning and general defensive lunacy. Wallace and Johnson are solid defenders, but they do not have the kind of LeBron James/Dwyane Wade athleticism that can engineer rim protection from the wings. The Nets will be fun, and they will be good. But this is their challenge: Can they build a defense that is anything better than average? I can’t wait to find out.”