NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Nets general manager Billy King believes his team will be able to make the playoffs next season and sign All-Star point guard Deron Williams to a long-term extension once the NBA and its players reach a new CBA.
Last week, in his first appearance with the media after his wrist surgery, Williams expressed interest in staying with the Nets and being part of the franchise as it moves to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season.
Williams has one more year on his contract and then an option for another year at $17.7 million, but he would like a long-term maximum deal. He was acquired in a trade with Utah during the season.
“My thoughts haven’t changed from the minute we traded for him (in February),” King said Wednesday, when he reviewed the Nets’ 24-58 season. “The more we talk and the more I get to know him, I can sense that he knows the goal of this franchise. We’ve had some great conversations and I can tell we’re on the same page moving forward.
“It’s nice to hear that he wants to stay here and that’s good to know. What others might have said doesn’t matter. You should take what he said and what I said as being the real deal.”
King announced that center Brook Lopez, who has never missed a game in his three-year NBA career, will undergo surgery next week for a calcium deposit in his right arm.
King would not address the uncertainty of the league without a new CBA, but he believes there should be no deterrent to improving the team in the offseason.
“We are in good shape,” King said. “We have some cap space with the existing agreement. We have draft picks (the Nets own the Lakers’ pick in the first round and their own pick in the second round), so a lot of good things can happen. But we have to get a CBA before any of it can be decided.”
He added: “I want to get better. I want to be in the playoffs. That would be the goal to be in the playoffs next year. Having Deron and having the right pieces, I think we have the ability to put ourselves in that position.”
King admits his job becomes more difficult without a CBA in place and a lockout looming at the end of the season.
“It does make it hard, because you don’t know how much money you can spend, but it doesn’t make it harder, because you know the guys you like and want to pursue,” King said. “You just don’t know how you can pay for those players, cap-wise. We can target guys we want, but you really don’t know about cap space.”
King doubted he could swing a trade before the draft in late June. He wasn’t sure it was even wise to try doing so.
“I don’t know if you want to make trades before this gets settled, because you’re not going to make a trade to make significant cap space if you don’t know what the cap is,” King said.
“We have a star (Williams) and we have other pieces we like. We just have to build around the pieces.”
King said the Nets need to become more athletic, especially at small forward. They will host 44 top pro prospects in a workout at their training facility May 7-8.
He also praised the play of Lopez, said the team hopes to re-sign free agent power forward Kris Humphries, and will consider bringing back shooting guard Sasha Vujacic, who also expressed interest in returning to New Jersey.
“We came a long way,” King said. “We had a lot of guys who finished the season with us who we didn’t think would be with us. (Coach) Avery (Johnson) kept the guys focused and ready to come to play every night. We had a lot of character on the team and a lot of nights, they did the best that they could.
“We never really had a full team all year due to trades and injuries. From where we started and what we had to go through, I’d say I was satisfied with the season. We had a lot of positive things happen.”
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