Every game, the Nets see the star power of Deron Williams. And as they prepare for their move to Brooklyn, they know they must sell him on the franchise.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov flew to San Antonio from British Columbia for Williams' first game following the NBA's most stunning trade. Prokhorov made a point to sit with Williams in London during the Nets' just-concluded trip there for the NBA's first regular-season games in Europe. Williams is the franchise's future, a superstar who can lure others of his caliber to a team that forever has lived in the considerable shadow of the New York Knicks.
Williams, who will play his second game in New Jersey on Wednesday against Golden State -- his sixth Nets game overall -- can opt out of his contract after next season and gamble that he can land a free agent deal more attractive than the $17.7 million he is guaranteed for 2012-13. The Nets need him to stay and hope a new collective bargaining agreement will be more team friendly. So the salesmanship has begun.
The Nets have seen why: five games, five double-doubles, five times the attention they normally receive.
"He's basically a triple-double type of a threat. As he continues to get comfortable, you'll even see him score more than what he's doing," coach Avery Johnson said.
"It all kind of starts with Deron," teammate Anthony Morrow said. "He came in with the mentality he was going to make everybody better. He makes everybody's job easier, and everybody is playing hard, buying into the system."
Williams is milking the Nets' inside game, utilizing Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, two guys that Toronto had no answer for in the London games Friday and Saturday.
"We played one year (together in Utah) -- my second year his first year," Humphries said. "He has transformed his game, and I'd like to think I've changed a little bit, too. I think a great point guard can go out there, as long as he has players who are capable playing at a high level, and he can orchestrate for the team to be successful."
NETS 137, RAPTORS 136 (3 OT): Travis Outlaw finally showed Nets fans, or at least Nets fans in London, why he was so highly regarded late in games in Portland. Outlaw made two free throws with 12.6 seconds left in the third overtime, and the Nets finished a two-game sweep of the Raptors. Outlaw scored eight of his 14 points in the third OT as the Nets withstood a final game-winning try by Toronto's Andrea Bargnani. Deron Williams recorded his fifth double-double (21 points, 18 assists) in as many games with the Nets, and Brook Lopez scored 34 points before fouling out.
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