Nets want Deron Williams, big man

Updated: November 30, 2011, 5:12 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New Jersey Nets general manager Billy King has a few major priorities: convincing point guard Deron Williams to stay and adding a big man.

King would not mention any specific names, but he said he will be aggressive in adding a power forward or center.

"We have some holes in our front line right now," King said Wednesday, "so that's a priority. That's where I'm focusing right now."

Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein early Wednesday morning that the Nets are preparing a blockbuster offer in an effort to acquire Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. In the proposal, the Nets would send Brook Lopez and two future first-round draft picks to Orlando in exchange for Howard and forward Hedo Turkoglu.

Turkoglu is still owed $35 million on his three-year contract, so the Nets would have to invoke the amnesty rule in the new collective bargaining agreement to free themselves of the remaining four years and $28 million on Travis Outlaw's deal in order to free up enough cap space to consummate the transaction.

Asked specifically about Howard, King said he hasn't engaged in conversations with Orlando executives in a long time.

"I'll go on record. I haven't talked to them since February of [this year], and that was just checking in on the deadline as you do with everybody," he said. "I have not had any conversations with my good friend [Magic GM] Otis Smith, as everybody speculated I have."

But will he?

"I wouldn't plan to tell you if I would," King replied.

Howard, who will turn 26 on Dec. 8, would give the Nets a superstar up front to pair with Williams. The Nets are scheduled to move into a $1 billion arena in Brooklyn in 2012-13, and they'd love to have two main attractions by then.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Howard led the NBA with 227 dunks, and averages 11.6 points per game and shoots 71.8 percent from inside five feet. He also held opponents to 37.3 percent shooting as an on-ball defender.

Howard and Williams both can opt out of their contracts at the end of the coming season and become free agents. But given that they're moving to a huge market and a brand-new arena, that seems like a risk worth taking.

King said he engaged in discussions with Williams' agent Wednesday, when all agents and executives were allowed to begin conversations about player signings.

King wouldn't disclose how much cap space he has to play with, but it is believed that number is in excess of $20 million.

"We've had some good conversations, some progress," King said. "We've been well-received in the phone calls, but when you have as much potential cap space as we do, I would expect to be well-received."

King said he isn't concerned about the speculation affecting the 23-year-old Lopez, because he plans to keep everything close to the vest.

"The circus-like atmosphere that was surrounding everything last [season] won't happen this year," King said, alluding to the Carmelo Anthony trade drama. "I promise you that. ... There won't be any leaks of information coming from this organization, because there won't be many people that know what I'm doing."

The Nets are expected to go hard after Denver Nuggets forward Nene and Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler, among others. If that happens, King said Lopez would move from center to power forward, which is more conducive to how he plays on the offensive end, often camping out on the perimeter.

"I think we're going to add some pieces to our puzzle to upgrade our roster," King said.

"I think we've just gotta build. We have the flexibility, we've got good pieces. The bold move was getting Deron. I think we have that face of the franchise right now."

Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that the Nets are also interested in Blazers guard Brandon Roy, if Portland waives him via the amnesty clause.

King wouldn't address that.

"I just look at it as it's about winning," King said. "I don't think anybody goes in to have a 30-win season or a 20-win season. Our goal is to try to put together a team that can win."

King was asked about his own free agents, which include power forward Kris Humphries and reserve Brandan Wright.

"I like them, but I gotta see where money is being spent and what's left," King said.

He couldn't address speculation about potentially cutting Outlaw, because the new CBA hasn't become official yet.

King said the Nets plan to hire two assistant coaches. Reports say P.J. Carlesimo and Mario Elie will be the hires.

King likes that his backcourt has some continuity. Williams, Jordan Farmar and Sundiata Gaines all played overseas during the lockout.

King was asked specifically about Williams, who played with Besiktas in the Turkish League for a month and a half. He said he was able to watch Williams on television and didn't believe there was anything negative that could come from it.

"He scored 50 points, he looked great," King joked.

Williams told ESPNNewYork.com recently that his surgically repaired right shooting wrist is much better.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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