Joe Johnson had the opportunity to come to New York if he really felt like it two summers ago.
He was in that same free-agent class as LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade, and the Knicks were among those inquiring about the six-time All-Star guard's services. But Johnson elected to stay with the Hawks, who could offer him more money than anyone else, taking their six-year, $119-million deal.
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"Man, I was already established in Atlanta," Johnson said Friday after his introductory news conference with Deron Williams at Brooklyn Borough Hall. "We were a team that was on the rise. We had made big jumps and leaps every year. We had a lot of great things going for us.
"So my thing with staying was I was comfortable. I thought we had a great team and I thought we could only get better."
But there Johnson was Friday, spending time in Brooklyn -- a place he'd never visited until Friday -- and in an environment he'll have to get familiar with after being traded to the Nets. He's already feeding into what should turn out to be a fierce rivalry with the Knicks, saying "definitely, the Nets," when asked which team in town is better.
"Well, you've got to be confident," he said. "I think being confident will get you somewhere . . . You've got to play with a certain swag, a certain confidence. We've got some great pieces, but at the same time, when you touch the floor, you've got to already feel that you are better than your opponent."
Williams, Johnson's new All-Star backcourt sidekick, can't wait to get going with him by his side.
"I've never played with a player of his caliber on the wing," Williams said, "where he can get his own shot, and create for others and vice versa. I'm going to take a lot of pressure off him and it's going to be fun to play with him."
"We have a Joe Johnson that can score and defend his position, you have Deron that can do the same," King said. "There are a lot of good backcourts, but I don't think there are backcourts that can do that. You've got two guys that can get you 18, 20 every night and they can defend their positions."
What about Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles? "They're good. I like them," King said. "But I think ours is better. I just think both these guys are physical, they can post up. I think Nash and Kobe, nothing to take away from them, but I think ours is better."
Notes & quotes: King said the Nets are "close" to an agreement to re-sign forward Kris Humphries.