- Last Updated: 12:17 PM, July 15, 2012
- Posted: 3:02 AM, July 15, 2012
WASHINGTON -- Since the NBA lockout ended late last year, there has been a constant stream of rumors that the Nets hoped to pair Deron Williams with Dwight Howard.
But now that the window for dealing for Howard has at least temporarily closed after the Nets re-signed Brook Lopez on Wednesday, Williams is looking forward to watching Lopez prove his doubters wrong this season.
“I expected big things from him last year,” Williams said Saturday after Team USA practiced at the D.C. Armory. “Unfortunately, the injury bug got him. This year I know he’s working out hard, he’s ready to go and we definitely expect him to be a big force for our team. We need him in the middle.”
The Nets need Lopez in the middle because they were unable to use him as the centerpiece in a Howard trade, something they have attempted to do several times over the past few months. But now that Lopez is signed, the Nets are lining up behind him and expect him to bounce back after missing all but five games last season with a pair of foot injuries.
“The one thing Brook said when he was here for the unveiling of the logo was he wanted to play in the building,” Nets general manager Billy King said Friday in Brooklyn at the press conference announcing the re-signing of Williams and trading for Joe Johnson. “That’s what I said [to him]: ‘You’re the starting center for the Brooklyn Nets and you’re opening the building.’ ”
Williams publicly has been supporting Lopez since he re-signed with the team, saying that he’s an underrated player. In his eyes, the reason why is a simple one.
“He’s been on bad teams his whole career,” Williams said. “He’s put up good numbers. … People get on him about his rebounding, and we’re going to get on him about his rebounding, and make sure he gets better in that area.
“[But] he knows that he has room to improve. It’s not like he thinks he’s perfect. Like I said, he’s working hard and he wants to get better.”
The Nets, who are the in the market for a backup center, are a possible landing place for former No. 2 overall pick Darko Milicic. The 7-footer and former Knick cleared amnesty waivers yesterday after being waived by Minnesota. Milicic would fill a need for a backup center behind Lopez on the roster.
The Nets also may have seen a potential suitor for Kris Humphries drop out of the bidding after the Bobcats claimed center Brendan Haywood off amnesty waivers from Dallas. The Bobcats have been rumored to have interest in Humphries, but after adding a big man on the cheap in Haywood, they could potentially slide one of their two first-round picks from a year ago, Bismack Biyombo, to power forward.
King said Friday that the Nets are “close” to re-signing Humphries, who has averaged a double-double each of the past two seasons for the Nets in his first opportunity to be a consistent starter.