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Williams to Sign $98 Million Contract With Nets, ESPN Reports

July 4 (Bloomberg) -- Deron Williams agreed to return to the Brooklyn Nets, ESPN reported, giving the team an All-Star point guard ahead of its move to a new arena and possible pursuit of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

Williams, 28, agreed to a five-year contract worth $98 million, the broadcaster said. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound guard has finished in the National Basketball Association’s top five assist leaders in each of the past six seasons.

Williams indicated his decision to stay with Brooklyn on his Twitter account. A post that said “Made a very difficult decision today” included a photo of the Nets logo.

Brooklyn two days ago agreed on a trade with the Atlanta Hawks for All-Star guard Joe Johnson. Brooklyn also has been linked with a move for Howard, a six-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year who led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009. Howard has expressed interest in playing with the Nets, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Nets haven’t made the playoffs since 2007.

The Nets declined to confirm the deal since players can’t be signed until July 11, said team spokesman Gary Sussman in an e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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