New York Daily News



Nets send Deron birthday wishes with traveling billboard Stefan Bondy,

SOMETIMES, IT’S good to show a star player he is appreciate­d — especially when he’s less than a week away from becoming a free agent.

The Nets surprised Deron Williams, who turned 28 on Tuesday, by sending 128 square feet of birthday love to his Manhattan home. The mobile billboard birthday card, attached to the back of a white truck, was parked there from Tuesday morning until the afternoon.

Amazingly, the driver found a spot in SoHo.

“Happy Birthday Deron! From your Brooklyn family,” the sign read below a Brooklyn Nets logo.

Williams’ wife, Amy, was the first in the family to see the sign, tweeting out a picture that showed the comparativ­e size of the billboard to the couple’s two youngest children.

“@deronwilli­ams this is parked in front of our house!” Amy tweeted.

Although meant as a nice gesture — which the Nets later marketed on the team’s Twitter page by documentin­g its ride through Brooklyn (no surprise, the sign passed the Barclays Center) and sprawling “Happy Birthday Deron!” across the homepage of the team’s website — cynics interprete­d the gift as desperate kowtowing. Williams, who is expected to opt out of his contract this week, will decide next month whether to re-sign with the Nets or join another team, most likely the Mavericks.

The Nets say they are confident Williams will re-sign for the maximum fiveyear deal. But if he bolts, the first-ever Brooklyn NBA team will be forced into rebuilding mode, and the honeymoon could sour quickly. The Nets can offer an extra year and roughly $27 million more than any other team because they hold his Bird Rights.

They’re also trying to entice the point guard by complement­ing him with winnow veterans. Dwight Howard remains the top target, but it’s unclear how the new Orlando Magic GM, Rob Hennigan, will deal with his disgruntle­d superstar.

The Rockets took an unlikely leap into the “Dwightmare” mix Tuesday by trading Chase Budinger to the Timberwolv­es for the No. 18 pick in the draft, giving them three first-rounders for Thursday.

The Rockets are trying to flip the picks for Howard, who reportedly has no long-term interest in Houston.

Williams is training at the Nets’ practice facility, but will leave shortly for Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. If Williams returns, not only can the Nets send him a billboard, but a new No. 8 jersey as well.

 ??  ?? Nets’ interest in retaining Deron Williams is posted to guard’s Twitter account.
Nets’ interest in retaining Deron Williams is posted to guard’s Twitter account.

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