Free agents in the NBA could finally sign contracts starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT Wednesday, and the Brooklyn Nets wasted no time getting their All-Star point guard to put pen to paper — well, iPad actually — on a new deal worth $98 million over five years.
The Nets came to Williams at his hotel in Las Vegas, where he is training with the U.S. Olympic team. He posted a picture of himself signing the contract on his Twitter page.
“We are obviously thrilled that Deron will lead the Nets into our new home in Brooklyn,” Nets general manager Billy King said in a statement. “Deron is in my opinion the top point guard in the NBA. With his leadership and guidance on and off the court, the fans of Brooklyn should be proud.”
The Clippers announced they signed Griffin to a contract extension that could be worth $95 million over five years. He left U.S. camp Tuesday for a day to return to Los Angeles and get all the terms taken sorted out, and he should certainly like them.
Also, the Lakers announced their sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix to bring Steve Nash to Los Angeles for first-round picks in 2013 and 2015, as well as second-rounds in 2013 and 2014.
Free agency opened July 1, and while players and teams could negotiate, deals couldn’t be signed until next season’s salary cap was set and the moratorium had been lifted. The league set the cap Tuesday night at $58 million and the luxury tax level at $70.3 million, both unchanged from last season.
A number of other deals have been agreed to, teams continuing to spend even in the first summer after the new collective bargaining agreement that resulted from the lockout. NBA champion Miami is signing Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in hopes of a repeat, the Knicks adding Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby.
They are expected to match the offer sheet Jeremy Lin got from Houston. Teams have three days to match deals that their restricted free agents could begin signing.
Still not completed is a deal for Dwight Howard, who doesn’t want to wait until he’s a free agent next summer to change addresses. Orlando is negotiating with Howard, who has asked to be traded to the Nets, but so far hasn’t found a deal worth shipping out a franchise center.
If Howard does get to the Nets, he’ll get to team up with Williams. They talked about playing together all the way back during the 2008 Olympics, and if they get their wish it will be in Brooklyn. The Dallas Mavericks hoped they could convince Williams to sign back in the area where grew up, but he opted to make the move with the Nets from New Jersey to New York.
“I am really excited to be able to officially say that Brooklyn is home,” Williams said. “It is an incredible time to play in Brooklyn and to be a part of this organization, the first sports team to call Brooklyn home in over 50 years. I believe in the team and what we are going to be able to accomplish on the court, as well as in the community. My family and I have come to know New York and the more we do, the more we love it. I look forward to going to London to represent the United States in the Olympics and then coming back to Brooklyn to open Barclays Center.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.