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Andrea Bargnani: "I intend to become an important player on the Nets"

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In a Facebook interview with Italian media Saturday, Andrea Bargnani said he chose the Nets not because they are in New York  --but noted, "Brooklyn is a terrific place"-- but because he liked what Billy King and Lionel Hollins told him and liked the make-up of the team.

Bargnani, the 29-year-old seven-footer, signed with the Nets on Friday and said he couldn't talk about specifics regarding his choice until Saturday.  The contract is a two-year vets minimum deal with a player option in the second year, but Bargnani said he sees the Nets as a long-term home. According to a machine translation, Bargnani said he's ready for a change, ready to relaunch his career.

"I'm very focused. I want to play a season without the constant stop and start..I intend in coming years to be an important player within the structure of the Nets and a player on whom my teammates can count on in any situation."

As for reports that he didn't want to leave New York, Bargnani said that was not a factor in his decision. He also said he had three offers, but the Nets topped his list. Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Kings thought they were close to signing Bargnani.

"The fact that then the team is in Brooklyn -- which is a terrific place -- is definitely a major plus but had no effect on me at the time of the decision...

"I found myself facing a number of offers and I'm flattered. I appreciated all the proposals, I evaluated them individually, even European ones. Until the last moment I did not say yes to anyone. In the end {the Nets] remained above the other three. I chose the Nets, that's a fact, I did not look at the money or the city ... The selection is based solely on the team and on my desire to play basketball. I chose the Nets after speaking with coach and GM."

According to league sources, Bargnani approached the Nets late in the game, "quite unexpectedly" according to one source.  He said as well that some people may have mistaken his "introverted character" to suggest he may not be as devoted as he should be.

"As an athlete, I can definitely say that I am dedicating my life to basketball forever and, if I did not have a great passion and love for this sport, I would not be where I am now. I will continue down this road without much grandstanding."

According to reports in both U.S. and Italian press, at least one offer, that of the Kings, was more lucrative than the Nets. It was roughly $500,000 more a year. Over the course of his career, Bargnani has made $72 million in NBA salariy alone.

He noted that he will soon be training with the Italian national team who are participating in FIBA Europe in September. If they finish high enough, Italy could get an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"Now we must all stay focused and look to the national team. This is the opportunity that all of us and especially our fans waited for years ... to make a compact around a single desire: to qualify for the Olympics. So now we just have to go and take the field. "

Team Italia opens play vs. Turkey on September 5, but will play so-called "friendly" or exhibition games next month.