Wallace felt signing early was good for Williams

Gerald Wallace is convinced that re-signing with the Brooklyn

Nets early in free agency helped convince Deron Williams to return

to the franchise and play in its new home.

Speaking on a conference call on Monday, more than two weeks

after agreeing to a four-year, $40 million contract, Wallace, a

small forward, was confident the Nets have made the moves necessary

to challenge in the Eastern Conference.

In addition to re-signing Wallace, Williams and center Brook

Lopez, the Nets acquired six-time All-Star shooting guard Joe

Johnson in a multi-player deal with the Atlanta Hawks.

The Nets also confirmed on Monday that they signed veteran

swingman Jerry Stackhouse to a one-year, $1.4 million deal, and

forward Mirza Teletovic to a three-year, $9.8 million contract.

”I’m excited to be back with Brooklyn, so we can get things

turned around, get the franchise headed in the right direction,”

Wallace said, ”and hopefully push for a championship.”

Wallace said he wanted to get his contract done quickly, because

he was holding a youth basketball camp in Alabama. However, he also

felt he had a good idea that Williams would to return to the Nets

rather than sign with Dallas. The two spoke a couple of days before

free agency opened.

”I was confident. I understood,” Wallace said. ”I figured

we’d get D-Will back. He really wanted to come back and I know that

he focused on me signing. And I knew once I signed, that worked in

our favor getting him back. And then I think with getting Joe

Johnson in a trade, I think that sold him on the idea.

”My thing was to sign, and give him that confidence that I’d be

there with him.”

Wallace, who was acquired from Portland before the trade

deadline last season, wanted to stay with the Nets all along.

”But the main focus was having Deron,” he said. ”I’m going

into my 12th year in the league, and I didn’t want to be in a stage

where we’re in a rebuilding process, starting all over with young

guys. The main thing was having some core guys there and being able

to compete now.”

Wallace is happy with the many moves made by Brooklyn general

manager Billy King.

`I think we’ve made a statement team-wise about the direction we

want to head in,” Wallace said. ”I think we’ve got some great

pieces. I understand that Billy and those guys are still doing some

hard work to make some things happen for us, and I think right now,

we’ve had a great start, and I think we can get better as a

team.

”If not, I feel confident with the team that we have now going

into training camp. And, hopefully, (if) everybody stays healthy,

we can make a push for the postseason.”

The Nets have missed the playoffs the past five seasons, the

last two as temporary tenants at the Prudential Center in Newark

while the move to Brooklyn was finalized.

”I feel like we put ourselves pretty much up there in the top

five,” Wallace said of the Nets’ chances in the Eastern

Conference. ”We haven’t proven anything; the teams that are ahead

of us, are the teams that have proven themselves, that have already

been in the postseason. Just by us putting it on paper, saying we

have these guys, they’ve been in the league, that doesn’t mean

anything. We still have to go out and prove ourselves.”

Stackhouse appeared in 30 games with the Hawks last season,

averaging 3.6 points and 9.1 minutes. The 17-year NBA veteran did

not appear in any of Atlanta’s six playoff games. Selected third

overall by Philadelphia in 1995, the North Carolina product has

career averages of 17.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists in

31.8 minutes.

Teletovic spent last season with Caja Laboral Vitoria of the

Spanish ACB League. He averaged 16.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in

31.1 minutes.

On Wednesday, the Nets will hold another press conference, this

one for Lopez, who re-signed last week.