Nets welcome new backcourt to Brooklyn

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson officially unveiled to the press
07/13/2012 1:29 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro
The Brooklyn Nets officially welcomed their new backcourt with a press conference at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall Friday afternoon, and general manager Billy King wasted no time in hyping guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson as part of the NBA elite.

“We were able to put together what I call the best backcourt in the NBA right now,” King said in his opening remarks. “It’s a backcourt than can defend anybody in the league, score on anybody in the league, and lead us.”

The re-signing of Williams and acquisition of Johnson from Atlanta were just two of the key moves the Nets made on the first day of free agency Wednesday, and King praised his entire staff for getting them and the others on board for the team’s first season at the Barclays Center.

“(Assistant GM) Bobby Marks, (Basketball Operations Coordinator) Matt Riccardi, (Basketball Information Coordinator) Matt Tellem, coach (Avery) Johnson…it’s not just me, it’s everybody, and I want to thank them first,” King said. “I’m pleased for the organization, and I think it’s a new beginning. That’s how I look at it for the Brooklyn Nets."

Coach Avery Johnson was also excited – and relieved – to officially have Williams and Johnson on board.

“It’s an exciting day for me and our Nets basketball family, to have two outstanding young men leading us into Brooklyn next year. “I had a lot of sleepless nights before (Williams) re-signed, but we have the same vision for winning a championship, and I’m excited to have him back on board. … It will be a joy for me to coach the best backcourt I’ve ever coached, and I’m excited about all of the different ways that we can utilize their skill set.”

Williams, who later admitted that he was “pretty close” to signing with Dallas instead of returning, praised both King and Johnson and cited their hard work as one of his biggest impetuses for re-signing.

“A couple weeks ago, Billy was catching a lot of flak, but he’s a big reason why I’m still here, along with coach. We’ve formed a great relationship over the last year and a half, and I didn’t want to leave those guys on an island,” Williams said. “I’m just happy with how aggressive and active they were in free agency, going and getting Joe, re-signing Brook (Lopez), re-signing Gerald (Wallace)…it’s going to be fun to play with them.”

As for Joe Johnson, the six-time All-Star is happy to be in the Big Apple, where he thinks he has a great shot at maintaining the winning ways he was used to in Atlanta.

“This is an opportunity I’m really looking forward to; it’s going to be a lot of fun for me, and I think we have a lot of great pieces and great upside,” he said. “I think we’re going to be ready to win right away, we just have to get to work and get prepared.”

As they say, the games aren’t played on paper, so it remains to be seen how well all of the pieces will gel – but Williams also predicted that the new era will be a successful one.

“The last year and a half was painful with losing a lot of games,” he joked, “but I think that’s going to change. We definitely have a nice squad, and I think we can be one of the best teams in the East.”

YES Network was on hand and televised the press conference live, and in addition to the Williams video above, you can see what Joe Johnson, Nets GM Billy King, and coach Avery Johnson had to say about the team's big week, as well as all four men's thoughts on playing in the new Barclays Center.

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