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Kris Humphries remains with Nets


By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets finally have "The Incredible Hump" back at power forward.

In a move that was made official Wednesday, the Nets re-signed Kris Humphries. A source told ESPN NewYork.com it's a one-year contract worth nearly $8 million.

"My outlets in life are God, family and basketball. I'm happy to have basketball back. I feel like I'm home, man," Humphries said.

The 26-year-old Humphries is coming off a career season in which he averaged 10 points and ranked fifth in the NBA in rebounding average (10.4 pre game). In 74 games (44 starts), the seven-year veteran shot 52.7 percent from the field.

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"We're thrilled to have him back," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "This goes with our plan of trying to have continuity. Last year was a great start, but there's another level where I want him to go."

Humphries had celebrity status this year when he married Kim Kardashian. The couple divorced after just 72 days, though, prompting speculation that their union was a sham.

"Life just happens," said Humphries, who was not asked directly about Kardashian. "I'm a positive thinker. In life I always look at the things that I can control, which is being ready and working on my game."

Humphries was working out in Minneapolis during the NBA lockout. The Nets were pursuing other options in free agency, like Tyson Chandler and Nene, to improve their roster. They also threw the kitchen sink at Orlando in an effort to acquire Magic center Dwight Howard, but were told he'd been taken off the trade market.

With less than a week remaining before the start of the regular season, the Nets had to fill their void at the four spot. Humphries is certainly an upgrade to veteran journeyman Shelden Williams, who was brought in on a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum to be a contributor off the bench.

"I think it's just a process," Humphries said. "There's still a lot of free agents out there, and it's a decision where both sides gotta be ready to do it, and sometimes it's hard to put a timeframe on that."

Humphries is not upset about the prospect of playing out the season on a one-year pact.

"Look, if you ask any player who plays basketball, they all want a max contract with the longest terms possible," Humphries said. "But I'm happy with the deal that I got, and I'm happy to be back here. I know that the team is moving in a new direction, and I'm just happy to be a part of that."

Johnson said Humphries might play Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, the final preseason game for both teams. Even if Humphries does play, his time on the court will be very limited.

"If he does, it'll be every bit of three minutes, and if he does play three minutes, it'll be a coach's decision," Johnson said.

"He's the coach, so he'll make the decision that," Humphries said.

Humphries said he had other options out there, but "I signed back with the Nets because this is where I wanted to be and I'm excited to be here."

While Humphries is motivated to do well, he said it has nothing to do with proving that his breakout 2010-11 campaign wasn't a fluke.

"That's something that you guys write about, but for me it's just about playing hard and knowing that if I approach the game the way I have been and we do it as a team, we can improve from last year for sure and hopefully get into the playoffs. That's what everybody plays for," he said.

Humphries will have only four practices -- counting a double session on Friday -- to get acclimated and ready for his team's Dec. 26 opener in Washington against the Wizards, but he knows the Nets' system, so that shouldn't be that big of an issue.

Point guard Deron Williams figures Humphries must be in good shape.

"He's a spokesperson for Bowflex, so he has to be," Williams joked.

The Nets still have about $11 million in cap space going forward.

"This by no means means that we're in the mode of 'we're satisfied,' " Johnson said, without mentioning any specific targets. "We still have work to do and we'll continue to do it."

Asked what he feels his team needs, Johnson joked, "Another week of training camp."

Humphries would be eligible to be traded to any team March 1. The Nets likely would have to include his expiring contract in a trade for Howard in order to absorb the bloated contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon.


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