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Deron Williams and Dwight Howard first started talking about joining forces — in Orlando — when they were Olympic teammates in 2008. Four years later, it appears closer to becoming a reality, but in Brooklyn.

The Nets and Magic were engaged in talks on a complicated deal that could include four teams, at least a dozen players, several draft picks and ultimately Howard ending up in Brooklyn.

Williams likes the sound of that and the Nets' future if the trade pans out.

"I think we'll be good," Williams said after the 2012 Olympic team practiced Monday. "I think we'll be one of the top teams in the East for sure, top teams in the NBA. It just depends on how everybody jells and comes together as a team. It took Miami a year, losing in the Finals and this year, they came out and were better."

If the Nets can complete this complex deal that would feature Brook Lopez going to Orlando and Kris Humphries to Cleveland in sign-and-trades, they would have their own Big Three of Williams, Howard and Joe Johnson.

"That's the way you got to go right now to compete with Miami," Williams said.

Although the talks seemed to be picking up steam, Williams tempered his enthusiasm. Several times last season, the Nets were close to acquiring Howard, including right before the trade deadline. But Howard changed his mind (temporarily) and decided to stay in Orlando. Three months later, he requested a trade to the Nets — again.

Around the league

Knicks • Steve Novak is returning to New York with a four-year deal worth $15 million. Novak's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said the deal is a reward for a player who finally got his opportunity and took advantage of it. The Knicks claimed Novak after he was waived by San Antonio and he went on to lead the NBA in 3-point shooting last season at 47.2 percent.

Bulls • Veteran guard Kirk Hinrich has agreed to a deal to return to Chicago. The 31-year-old Hinrich spent his first seven seasons with Chicago before he was traded to the Washington Wizards two years ago. He was later dealt to Atlanta, where he averaged 6.6 points in 48 games last season. He will give the Bulls an experienced point guard while Derrick Rose recovers from knee surgery.

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