Shots fired! (Or something to that effect …) Joe Johnson wasted little time getting the New York rivalry between the Knicks and Nets jump started. During his introductory press conference today, Johnson proudly stated that the Nets are Gotham’s top squad, while GM Billy King said that Joe and Deron Williams now form the League’s top backcourt. (King, however, acknowledged that Brooklyn is still not a championship contender.) From ESPN: “Joe Johnson thinks the best NBA team in New York City is the one that just traded for him: The Brooklyn Nets. ‘The Nets. Definitely, the Nets,’ Johnson responded Friday at a news conference at Brooklyn Borough Hall, kicking off what should be a riveting ‘East River Rivalry’ between the Nets and the New York Knicks. ‘This is a great day because it’s a day when we put together the best backcourt in the NBA,’ general manager Billy King said, alluding to pairing Johnson (four years, $89 million) with Deron Williams, who signed a max contract worth $98 million over five years. So what about the Los Angeles Lakers dynamic duo of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash? ‘They’re good. But I think ours is better,’ King replied. ‘If you asked (Lakers GM) Mitch (Kupchak), he’d probably say his is better. It’s like a North Carolina-Duke thing.’ Johnson and Williams headlined an impressive offseason haul by King, who, with what felt like a seemingly endless spending budget from Russian billionaire owner MIkhail Prokhorov, re-signed Brook Lopez (four years, $60 million) and Gerald Wallace (four years, $40 million), while also bringing in Bosnian stretch forward Mirza Teletovic (three years, $9 million) and rugged rebounder Reggie Evans (three years, $5 million). The Nets, who have gone 58-172 in the last three seasons and haven’t made the playoffs since 2006-07, now believe like they can compete with the upper echelon in the Eastern Conference. ‘It’s not just about winning a local championship or a regional championship,’ coach Avery Johnson said. ‘It’s really about winning an NBA championship, and that’s what our focus is on.’”
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