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NBA: Nets' Deron Williams open to 2014 basketball worlds

Published September 10, 2012 5:01 pm

NBA notes • Former Utah Jazz star focused on Nets for now.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets said Monday he would be "definitely open" to playing for the United States in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball.

Williams, who helped the Americans win the gold medal in Beijing in 2008 and defend their title last month in London, said he loves representing the U.S. and wouldn't rule out returning for a third Olympics in four years.

"I'll be 32, so I'm not going to be too old," Williams said. "[Jason] Kidd was 36 the last time we did it, so I could play two more essentially. But we'll see, we'll see what happens. Four years is a long ways off."

Formally called the world basketball championship, the World Cup of Basketball will be held in Spain in two years and the Americans are qualified with their Olympic title. Williams originally planned to play for the U.S. before pulling out of the 2010 worlds, a lesser event in the U.S. that NBA and world basketball officials are trying to strengthen.

"They're starting to try to put emphasis on it and make it more important," Williams said. "It's definitely important. I think the world championship is great. It's not the Olympics, but it is a big deal."

For now, the All-Star guard is focused on the Nets' debut in Brooklyn. He posted a picture on Twitter of players working out Monday and expects the team to be strong in its first season since leaving New Jersey. Williams — traded from Utah to New Jersey last season — decided to stay with the Nets in July, signing a five-year contract worth about $98 million instead of joining his hometown Dallas Mavericks. The team also acquired All-Star Joe Johnson from Atlanta while re-signing Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.

"People sleep on us and we'll let them do that. That's fine," Williams said. "We have no excuses. I think everybody's at the point in their career where they want to win. There's no hidden agendas, there's no contract issues. Pretty much everybody's locked in and ready to focus on basketball."

Mavericks' Cuban talks up newcomers

There was no secret about the Dallas Mavericks' plans going into free agency and their heavy pursuit of Williams. Things obviously turned out much differently.

More than two months after All-Star guard Williams opted to stay with the Nets, the Mavericks formally introduced the five veteran players they were able to add instead. A couple hundred season-ticket holders attended the event.

"We went on the option for the big free agent. That didn't work out. … Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't do and they lead to better things. And I think that's what happened now," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Monday.

Dallas got Elton Brand on a waiver claim from Philadelphia, signed free agents Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo, and acquired Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones in a trade from Indiana. All those moves were made in July.

Add the three rookies drafted in June, and the Mavericks' current 15-player roster has only seven players back from last season. Only four players remain from their NBA title team the year before that, including perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, who is going into his 14th season.

"Definitely, we want to keep Dirk's window open as long as possible to win another championship," Brand said. "We're hungry because we don't have championships and he does. Hopefully, we just make the job a lot easier."

Cavaliers' Gee gets three-year contract

The Cleveland Cavaliers signed free agent swingman Alonzo Gee to a three-year, $9.75 million contract. Gee, 25, had a breakout season for the Cavs in 2012, averaging 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 63 games.