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The Man who wasn't there ... Nets sidestep Deron Williams absence

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in four years, Deron Williams was not at Nets Media Day but his presence was felt as player after player wished him in his new digs, Dallas, but without much enthusiasm. And although Joe Johnson was careful not to confirm rumors that he and D-Will didn't get along, he said a lot by not saying anything.

"I didn’t see that coming," Johnson said of the buyout. "I didn’t see that coming -- him getting bought out. I don’t think it was that bad. It’s not that bad here. To want to get bought out, I couldn’t really put my finger around that one. But I hear that he’s happy and that’s the most important thing. He’s back home so good for him."

Has Johnson spoken with his now former backcourt mate?  "No I haven’t.," he replied.

Jarrett Jack, who is a friend of D-Will's, had kind words and hope for Williams future.  He said he had spoken to his former AAU teammate in the past few days.

'Sometimes, a change is necessary,'' Jack said. ''He's getting a fresh start, a clean slate. When you leave a place, it's like a breath of fresh air. He's going home. You can't fault anyone for that.''

As for whether he can replace Williams if called upon, Jack told the media, "'I just have to be myself,'' Jack said. ''Being Jarrett Jack has worked pretty well for me in the past. That's all I want to keep doing. We have some different personnel to work with.''

Brook Lopez was matter-of-fact in his discussion of his former teammate, saying "we all wish him well."  Lopez also said first word of the buyout came in a text from a friend, not from the Nets or Williams.

Maybe the most damning words uttered during the three-hour Media Day were those of a player who's never been a teammate of Williams but played for Lionel Hollins in Memphis. He spoke about last year's team.

"You're going to have rifts, you're going to have different things that come up," said a philosphical Dahntay Jones.

"But I think those guys were in a tough spot because of the personnel on the team and guys who may or may not wanted to be here ... That team had a lot of different things going. I had personal friends on that team last year and they were going through some ups and downs."

It's the second time in a week that someone on the Nets said a lot by saying little about Williams.  Last Tuesday, when Billy King was asked if he saw the departure of Williams as "addition by subtraction," King paused fixed his eyes on the reporter, AP's Jim Hague, and replied, "Next question."

Williams spoke in Dallas about his time with the Nets...

"It feels really good. It feels like a long time coming," Williams said talking about his new role. "You know, I’m excited about this new opportunity. You know, I’m excited about a fresh start. My time in New Jersey and Brooklyn didn’t go as well as I think everybody hoped, and so it’s kind of just a fresh start for me. It’s a chance to just reset, and I think to refocus."