Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Special to ZAGSBLOGEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As the Brooklyn Nets began preparations on Thursday evening for next week’s Orlando Summer League, there is obviously bigger news surrounding the franchise beyond the roster of 15 draft picks, veterans and free agents that were at the PNY Center.
While nothing is official until the NBA’s free agency moratorium ends on July 11, the Nets have gotten a radical upgrade to their roster. Incumbent point guard Deron Williams agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal on July 3, which came a day after General Manager Billy King acquired high-scoring, high-priced Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams and DeShawn Stevenson to the Hawks.
“It’s great. I’ve already got a good relationship with Joe and I’m just looking to pick up anything I can from him,” said second-year guard MarShon Brooks, a Georgia native. “We’ve played on the same court before (in the offseason), so we’re pretty familiar with each other.”
Johnson, who is still owed approximately $90 million over the next four years, will be a fine backcourt mate for Williams, but it is the former University of Illinois star that is now the face of the franchise with the historic move to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center a few months away. The fact Williams decided to re-up for the move to Brooklyn comes as a surprise to no one.
The eighth-year pro opted out of his $17.7 million player option for 2012-13 with the knowledge that the Nets could offer him one extra year and approximately $24 million more than his other finalist, his hometown Dallas Mavericks, could offer. The free agency negotiating period opened on July 1 and two days later, he announced his intentions via his Twitter account.
Nets head coach Avery Johnson was in East Rutherford on Thursday overseeing his staff as it worked out the Summer League roster. While Johnson cannot directly comment on new acquisitions before they officially sign, it’s pretty clear he is excited about where this franchise is going as it heads across the Hudson River for good.
“We’ve been in the news for a lot of the wrong reasons when your team is not very good,” Johnson said. “We’ve been through it all, so it’s good that we’re in the news for a positive reason. We’re consistently upgrading our team, we’re upgrading our starting lineup. Hopefully, by the 11th, 12th or 13th of this month, our team will really, really start to take shape.”
“You can run the cutest plays and have the best defensive schemes, but if you don’t have size and athleticism and guys who can out the ball in the basket, you’re not gonna win.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.