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Nets strike it rich on first day of free agency

07/11/2012 10:50 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Deron Williams was the first domino to fall on the Brooklyn Nets' big day.(AP)
Less than a month ago, the Nets' summer seemed like a crapshoot – but much like the numbers 7 and 11 are winners on a come-out roll in craps, 7/11 was a winner on Brooklyn's calendar, as a handful of key free agents and trade acquisitions officially became property of the Big Apple on Wednesday.

Just minutes after the NBA’s moratorium on player movement ended at 12:01 a.m., the Nets struck their first big blow of the day by officially signing point guard Deron Williams to the maximum five-year, $98.77 contract – a deal that Deron inked via iPad from a city that knows a thing or two about the 7-11 combo, Las Vegas.

Later in the morning, the team took to Twitter to officially re-welcome Gerald Wallace to town on a four-year, $40 million contract. The soon-to-be 30-year-old small forward, who was acquired from Portland in February, agreed to the deal verbally last week, and returns after averaging 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 16 games with the Nets last season.

After an afternoon that included a verbal agreement with veteran guard Jerry Stackhouse on a one-year deal and numerous rumors about possible Dwight Howard deals, the Nets took to Twitter again around 6 p.m. to announce that their blockbuster trade with Atlanta for six-time All-Star Joe Johnson had officially gone through.

The deal, which the Nets and Hawks agreed to last week during the moratorium, brings the 31-year-old off-guard to Brooklyn in exchange for Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar (who will be bought out by Atlanta so he can go play in Turkey, according to Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger), and a future first-round draft pick.

Although Johnson is owed nearly $90 million over the next four years, he is a six-time All-Star with career averages of 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game, and his then-pending acquisition was reported to be one a key factor that influenced Deron Williams’ decision to remain with the Nets.

Finally, moments after Brooklyn announced the Johnson trade, word broke via multiple outlets that the team had agreed to the maximum four-year, $61 million deal with restricted free agent center Brook Lopez, a contract that had earlier in the day been reported to be fully guaranteed.

Official confirmation of the deal came Wednesday night – and while it could still be part of a sign-and-trade scenario in an effort to acquire Howard from Orlando at some point during next season, it appears as if the “D12 to Brooklyn” window is all but shut for now.

And so, the Lopez signing gave the Nets a "Big 4" with him, Williams, Wallace, and Johnson...but the Nets still weren't done.

Next up was a sign-and-trade deal to acquire forward Reggie Evans from the Clippers, Los Angeles' return being the right to swap second-round picks with the Nets in 2016. The "sign" portion netted Evans a three-year deal worth $5 million, with Brooklyn using one of the trade exceptions acquired from Portland in the Wallace deal last February to absorb the first year's salary.

And, finally, the Nets also announced around 9:30 p.m. that they have "agreed in principle" to a contract with Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic, who played for Caja Laboral Vitoria of the Spanish ACB League last year but negotiated a buyout with that squad to come to the United States. Because that announcement was only of a deal in principle, terms were not released as per team policy, but it was reported last week that Teletovic's contract will be for three years and $15.67 million, with the Nets using their full mid-level exception for this season.

Teletovic is expected to sign his contract Thursday, at which point official terms will likely be announced.

However, even with that slight "delay," the Nets' wild Wednesday seems to have cemented the majority of their 2012-13 lineup in the first 24 hours that they could do so, making them the early big winners of the off-season.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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