Nets Lead Widening at Crunchtime?

Feb 28, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams (8) in action during the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

In an interview with popular Dallas radio host Randy Galloway, ESPN's Marc Stein says he believes the Nets are now the "clear front runner" in the pursuit of Deron Williams. Stein points out, among other things, Williams has been working out at the PNY Center, visited the Nets locker room to pick out his locker at Barclays Center, and has spent an increasing amount of time with Avery Johnson, who's not just his coach, but now a friend close enough to be invited to his birthday party Tuesday.

Stein, who put the Nets chances of signing Williams at 80-20, said he believes the deal could be done July 4. Stein added that Williams appears to be bothered with the whole process of free agency and wants done with it.

As for the hometown factor, Stein thinks there's credibility to the idea that players don't like playing in their hometown. Stein added there might be too much pressure on D-Will to come to Dallas and be the "savior" that everyone thinks he can be. Bottom line, said Stein, is that it would be a "real shock" if Williams bolted.

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