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Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Rapid Reaction: D-Will picks the Nets

By Mike Mazzeo

WHAT IT MEANS: Brooklyn has its first NBA superstar.

Just after 7 p.m. ET Tuesday, Deron Williams announced via Twitter that he will re-sign with the Nets.

The All-Star point guard agreed to a five-year contract worth $98 million to stay in Brooklyn, according to sources.

Williams, 28, chose the Nets over his hometown Dallas Mavericks, who could offer only four years and $75 million under CBA rules.

BRAVO, BILLY: Nets GM Billy King never wavered. Ever since he traded for Williams in February 2011, King was confident that he could get a long-term deal done with the point guard.

Williams endured a lot of losing and frustration in New Jersey. But he said he was willing to re-sign, assuming King could put the right pieces around him. Already this offseason, the Nets have come to verbal agreements with Gerald Wallace and Mirza Teletovic, and have come to an agreement on trades for Joe Johnson and Reggie Evans. None of the moves can become official until July 11.

Williams must have liked the moves. He also has enjoyed living in Manhattan, as well as the increased marketing opportunities he has been afforded. Williams also has forged great relationships with King and coach Avery Johnson, and had been working out at the team's practice facility in recent weeks, increasing the likelihood that he would stay with the Nets.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Nets' next priority likely is re-signing restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez , if they don't trade him to Orlando. Dwight Howard has told the Magic that he wants to play for the Nets. The two teams have discussed a blockbuster deal, sources told ESPN.com, but nothing is imminent. Recent reports say that if they can't work out a deal for Howard, the Nets will go after unrestricted free-agent power forward Ersan Ilyasova.

Aside from those immediate moves, the Nets will look to fill out their roster mostly with players on minimum salaries.

ARE THEY ELITE? Maybe they aren't in the Heat's class -- or even the Celtics' -- but the Nets certainly look like a playoff team that could do some damage in the East. Of course, if they acquire Howard, they could move into the upper echelon of the NBA. They can certainly score, but they're short on defensive stoppers. Granted, the Nets have won 58 games combined -- yes, combined -- the past three seasons, and they haven't made the playoffs in the past five. But it seems as if the Nets suddenly have cultivated a winner in Brooklyn.