By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It's official! At long last.
Deron Williams is signed, sealed, but not yet delivered to Brooklyn as he continues to work out in Las Vegas with Team USA for the upcoming London Olympics.
Though the three-time All-Star announced via Twitter on July 3 that he was returning to the Nets, NBA free-agent signing rules restricted Brooklyn from announcing the move prior to Wednesday morning.
“We are obviously thrilled that Deron will lead the Nets into our new home in Brooklyn,” said Nets general manager Billy King, who continues to pursue Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard via trade after giving Williams a five-year, $98 million pact. “Deron is in my opinion the top point guard in the NBA. With his leadership and guidance on and off the court, the fans of Brooklyn should be proud.”
Williams, who averaged a career-high 21 points to go with 8.7 assists last season as the Nets missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, issued an official statement of his own after the inking was complete.
"I am really excited to be able to officially say that Brooklyn is home,” said the organization's top returning player. “It is an incredible time to play in Brooklyn and to be a part of this organization, the first sports team to call Brooklyn home in over 50 years. I believe in the team and what we are going to be able to accomplish on the court, as well as in the community. My family and I have come to know New York and the more we do, the more we love it. I look forward to going to London to represent the United States in the Olympics and then coming back to Brooklyn to open Barclays Center."
The Nets also announced the re-signing of free-agent forward Gerald Wallace, acquired prior to last season's trade deadline from Portland in a swap that handed the Trail Blazers Brooklyn's first-round pick (sixth overall) in last month's NBA Draft.
"Re-signing Gerald was a top priority this offseason, and we are very pleased that he will continue to be a Net," King said of Wallace, who averaged 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 16 games for New Jersey last season. "He is a proven veteran, who is a leader both on and off the court, and his style of play is critical to the team's success."
Brooklyn also was expected to make official its acquisition of Atlanta All-Star guard Joe Johnson, who will team with Williams to give the Nets one of the pre-eminent backcourts in the league.
Of course, the Howard negotiations continue to gobble up the lion's share of attention in sports headlines across the nation, with the Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets reportedly in the mix to land the player known as "Superman".
After the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly dropped out of a blockbuster four-team, 14-player swap Tuesday that would have landed Howard in Brooklyn, the Nets are busy trying to secure the contract of center Brook Lopez, possibly for up to five years and $78 million.
Lopez would then be used in a potential trade with the Magic for Howard, who is rumored to be interested in signing a long term pact with the Nets.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, the Nets are also offering three first-round picks, and possibly even a fourth if they can attain one by trading away second-year guard MarShon Brooks, to the Magic for Howard.
Lopez, who missed all but five games last season due to foot injuries, and Howard, coming off back surgery, could be exchanging addresses by the end of the week.
Williams intimated earlier in the week that the Nets would be fine with or without Orlando's 7-footer, but did add that any team would be better with Howard in the middle.
For continuing coverage of the Howard situation, check the Eagle sports pages or log on to www.brooklyneagle.net.