EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — While Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King was addressing the media Wednesday in advance of the NBA Draft, a familiar face poked his head into the media room at the team’s training facility.
It was none other than Brooklyn All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who was there to work out once again, like he’s done nearly daily since the Nets’ disastrous final season in New Jersey ended in April.
On Sunday, Williams will become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any club willing to pay him. But his appearance Wednesday makes it seem that Williams is leaning toward re-signing with the Nets.
King didn’t offer any information about possible contract discussions with Williams or any other free agents. NBA rules prohibit personnel from discussing free agent contracts until after July 1. However, King didn’t look or sound like a guy who is about to lose his franchise player.
“My feelings (about re-signing Williams) haven’t wavered or changed,” King said. “I’m not overconfident, but I just feel pretty good about our chances. It’s big for us and the franchise. I’m not going to downplay it. It’s important for Deron and important for the franchise as we move forward. I know Deron will make a decision that’s best for him and his family.”
On Tuesday, Williams’ 28th birthday, a giant billboard was placed in front of his home that read: “Happy Birthday Deron, from your Brooklyn family,” and the new Brooklyn Nets logo. Williams’ wife, Amy, posted a picture of the billboard along with their twin sons, on Twitter.
A day later on Wednesday, Williams was working out with backup center Johan Petro, one of only four players that the Nets have under contract for the 2012-13 season.
“I think it’s a positive when you have players working on their games individually like that,” King said. “I think it’s a good sign.”
About Williams’ pending decision, King said that he doesn’t anticipate a lengthy negotiation.
“I think it will happen pretty quickly,” King said. “Deron said that he wanted to have it done before the Olympics. It does help the situation that he wants to get it done. By mid-July, I think we’ll have a good idea what the team will look like.”
Besides Williams, the Nets — who finished 22-44 last season and in last place in the Atlantic Division — would also like to re-sign pending free agents Gerald Wallace, acquired in a trade with Portland last March, and Gerald Green, who was rescued from the NBDL to become a standout player and fan favorite.
“I can just say that I’d like to have them both back,” King said.
King said that he always loved the day of the NBA draft. However, his enthusiasm has to be somewhat tempered, considering that the Nets don’t own a pick until No. 57 overall in the second round.
“It’s a fun day with a lot of excitement,” King said. “It’s going to be hard for me not having a pick.”
However, King hinted that the Nets might get involved in either moving up or acquiring a pick later in the first round.
“We might do something,” King said. “If we wanted to, we could get in the first round. There are definitely picks available. We have the draft ranked 1 through 60 and we’ll see if there’s anyone worthy in the draft for us to move higher. Will we? I’ve been talking to teams. Right now, I’d say no, but that may change. Every year, there are picks that are available, but sometimes, the price is too high.
“We’ll be prepared if we have to move up.”
King said that he’s allowed his coaching and scout staff to evaluate the players available in the draft.
“A lot of my focus has been with what comes Sunday,” King said. “There’s certainty coming Sunday. We’re prepared.”
King denied a report that the Nets were about to sign Croatian swingman Mirza Teletovic, who was the leading scorer in the Euroleague this season, but he did think that last year’s second-round pick, Bojan Bogdanovic, another Croatian playing pro ball in Turkey, might be bought out of his contract to play for the Nets.
“There’s a lot of information out there, especially involving European players, but you can’t even negotiate until July 1,” King said. “We’re looking to get guys who are a good fit and make you a better basketball team.”
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