by Devon Jeffreys, July 11, 2012
The Nets are headed to Brooklyn this fall and so is Deron Williams.
The moment he could officially do so on Wednesday, Deron signed a five-year deal to remain a member of the Nets.
"I am really excited to be able to officially say that Brooklyn is home," Deron said in a Nets team statement. "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."
D-Will, who is currently in Las Vegas training with Team USA, for the 2012 Olympics, made his decision on July 3rd, but could not officially sign until July 11th due to a league-wide moratorium on trades and signings from July 1-10. That didn't stop Deron from making a decision just two days after he hit the free agent market and sticking to it.
"I just wanted to get it over with so that people would stop talking about it," he said. "I don't like being the topic of discussion."
But as they move to their new home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Nets are becoming a topic of discussion. In addition to re-signing D-Will, the team announced Wednesday that they have re-signed forward Gerald Wallace to a four-year deal and acquired five-time All-Star Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks.
Deron said it was the trade for Johnson — a player whose game he has admired from afar and who he has long wanted to play with — that put him over the top to re-sign in Brooklyn rather than heading to his hometown team, the Dallas Mavericks.
"Joe I think got me over the hump," Deron said. "I've never played with anybody like him. A guy on the wing who can get his own shot, get me involved, is a great defender. I think we can be one of the top backcourts in the NBA for sure."
D-Will told SI.com that he's been a fan of Johnson's game since he was coming into the league and believed he might be drafted by the Hawks with the second overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. He instead went third to the Jazz and has never played with Johnson, though the two were on 2012 Eastern Conference All-Star team, Johnson sat the game out with a knew injury. D-Will is looking forward to a chance to play with one of the game's elite scorers.
"I've always loved Joe's game," Deron said. "He can score with the best of them, but he does a lot of things well. He can pass the ball, he can rebound. He's a great defender, he can guard most positions. He would usually guard me when we played them, so I like that versatility he has and I'm really looking forward to playing with him."
The trade for another All-Star, along with the forthcoming move to Brooklyn legitimized the Nets in Deron's eyes, creating a buzz around the team that hadn't been present since he arrived in a trade from the Jazz in February of 2011.
"The buzz in Brooklyn is big. The arena is going to be amazing. I think it's going to be an exciting time. I think we're going to have a pretty good team this year so we have a chance to become better. A lot of our guys are a little underrated. Brook Lopez is a little undervalued. Gerald Wallace, people say he's old. He's 30 years old. The same with Joe. It will kind of be like a rejuvenation for all of us."
Despite all the moves the Nets made pulling him to Brooklyn, No. 8 said that it was still one of the toughest decisions he has ever made, choosing between the Mavericks and Nets. He noted that the process was "stressful" and not as fun as his peers made it out to be.
D-Will also admitted that at one point he was leaning toward going to Dallas. But after meeting with both teams on Monday, July 2nd, the day the Nets agreed to the trade for Johnson, Deron looked at his options and had a change of heart.
"I was really close to going to Dallas. I actually thought that's where I was going to go," he said. "My hometown team, the one I grew up watching, I would have loved to play for, my family would have loved to see me play for. I felt like I let the city I'm from down because they wanted me there so bad. It was a really, really tough decision. It ultimately came down to where I felt I had a better to chance to win, especially for a long period of time."
Deron believes that place is Brooklyn, where the Nets will have to compete with the New York Knicks for city supremacy and the world champion Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy. Deron is anxious just to be competitive with those teams again, after enduring 62 losses over the last year and a half with the Nets.
"It's been tough on me the last year and a half," he told SI. "[I'm] really excited about getting a chance to be competitive, a chance to be in the playoffs again. Watching LeBron and those guys go through the playoffs and win it brought a smile to my face. It feels like Christmas again, like you're going to have fun playing the game. The game wasn't fun to me the last year. It was more of a job, and I don't like that."
Deron's first task will be helping the Nets reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007. From there, he believes how far they can go will depend on the type of chemistry they develop.
"I'm not going to say it's a championship team right now, but we'll have to see how it goes," he said. "I'm excited about this year and getting to training camp with these guys… I think we can definitely do some damage. I think we're a team that's built right. We have a lot of guys who know how to play the game now and know how to make basketball plays. It'll be fun…. Brooklyn has wanted a sports franchise and now they have one again. New York is a basketball city."
- Hello Deron (Brooklyn Nets, July 11, 2012)
- Nets Place Star Point Guard Atop Their New Arena (New York Times, July 3, 2012)
- Deron Williams: Joe Johnson trade helped me pick Nets over Mavericks (CBS Sports, July 7, 2012)
- Williams opens up about Howard, Team USA, Nets' future and more (SI.com, July 8, 2012)
- New deal means ‘rejuvenation' for Deron Williams (Salt Lake Tribune, July 7, 2012)
- Deron Williams: Trade made me stay (ESPN, July 6, 2012)
- Williams: Johnson acquisition convinced me to re-sign with Nets (New York Post, July 8, 2012)
- Williams says Joe Johnson trade was the biggest factor in decision (New York Daily News, July 6, 2012)
- Nets' Deron Williams relieved to be out of free agency (USA Today, July 8, 2012)
- Deron Williams chooses the Nets, announces decision on Twitter (Star-Ledger, July 3, 2012)