By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It would be most fitting if the Brooklyn Nets’ original pied-piper-to-be followed their current one to the Barclays Center in November.
That scenario is actually looking like a possibility in wake of former Net point guard Jason Kidd’s recent comments citing his desire to back up soon-to-be free agent playmaker extraordinaire Deron Williams, whether he winds up signing with Dallas, Los Angeles, Orlando, or yes, even Brooklyn.
With July 1 — the date teams can begin open negotiations with free agents — looming closer and closer, the Nets will be on the clock to bring back their best, and most popular, player for what is shaping up as an historic inaugural campaign in Downtown Brooklyn.
Williams, who has spent the past several months shooting down rumors regarding his upcoming decision, has been the face of the Nets franchise during its relocation from Newark to the corners of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
While disgruntled Orlando center Dwight Howard has been mentioned as the key bait in getting Williams to return to Brooklyn, the All-Star point guard has family in the Dallas area and reportedly maintains a residence in the Lone State State. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov even quipped in April that he'd engage in a "kickboxing throwdown" with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the upcoming battle for Williams' services.
Cuban has been open to the possibility of acquiring Williams to play alongside Dirk Nowitzki, and potentially Kidd, in pursuit of the organization’s second NBA title in three years. But Kidd, who helped guide the Mavs to their first-ever championship in 2011-12, admits that while his days of playing "38 minutes per night are over", he’d be more than willing to caddie behind Williams next season, regarless of the locale.
The only remaining question is, where?
"I think going to Brooklyn brings a lot of attention," Kidd said earlier this week while promoting a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe next month. "The last professional team there was the Dodgers, so I think they're going to be very excited. And then with the Russian owner (Prokhorov), I mean, he's not short on money so I think they're going to go out and make a splash."
Kidd, who guided New Jersey to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002-03 during his seven-year tenure with the franchise, was the face of the organization when Bruce Ratner's original ownership group first proposed taking the team to Downtown Brooklyn in 2003. Though he wound up being traded to Dallas — his original team — in February of 2008, Kidd remains one of the greatest Nets of all-time, and a valuable veteran presence in any lineup.
"[Williams] and I could play off each other really well," added Kidd, who also expressed an interest in returning to the Mavericks or, possibly even joining Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin at Madison Square Garden in a back-up role.
For the Nets, adding the 39-year-old Kidd would likely be on the back-burner of their free-agent plans.
With only a handful of players signed for next season, general manager Billy King and the rest of the organization's braintrust must first focus on bringing back Williams, and then re-signing free agent forward Gerald Wallace, who was acquired from Portland at February's deadline in a swap that cost Brooklyn it's first-round draft pick (sixth overall).
As for Howard, new Magic GM Rob Hennigan has his hands full. The perennial All-Star center was re-signed through 2014 in February after a rumored deal with the Nets fell through, but has been pushing to move out of Orlando, with Brooklyn apparently tops on his wish list of destinations.
The teaming of Williams, who has had his face plastered on billboards announcing the Nets' pending re-location for over a year now, and Howard would create the type of buzz our borough's first major pro sports franchise since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957 needs to sell out the state-of-the-art Barclays Center well beyond Opening Night.
If the Nets can get their dynamic duo in place next month, and add Kidd as Williams' backup, the rival Knicks will have a legitimate contender to their throne as the Big Apple's top team.
"There are free agents out there that we're going to go after, and we have the ability to sign them because we have cap room," King said following the NBA Draft Lottery earlier this month.
With a week to go before the June 28 Draft and less than two remaining before free agency kicks off, the Nets will have a busy summer trying to fill out the remaining 11 to 12 spots on their roster. Brooklyn basketball fans are hoping the names Williams, Howard and Kidd are included in the Opening Night introductions five months from now.
According to Kidd, however, his free-agent plans remain closely tied to Williams'.
"He's the key," Kidd noted. "For me, it’s the backup role to give him time to rest, but also coming down the stretch to have the chance to play alongside Deron, I think we can be successful."
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While King and the Nets continue to put together next season's roster, the almost complete Barclays Center has signed one of the greatest basketball teams in history to play in Brooklyn on Oct. 7.
The Harlem Globetrotters will make their first-ever Brooklyn appearance on that date after putting on their spectacular show in 120 countries over the past 86 years.
"Brooklyn is an amazing place, from its storied sports history to the distinct neighborhoods to the cultural offerings," said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider earlier this week. "The entire organization is looking forward to this historic event and seeing the new venue with our fans."
"We are excited to welcome the Harlme Globetrotters and their crowd-pleasing brand of basketball to Brooklyn for the first time," said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. "We are proud to bring these wonderful showmen and their famed 'Sweet Georgia Brown' anthem to Barclays Center."