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Nets add Mario Elie, P.J. Carlesimo

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets have already made some additions to their bench. No, not Dwight Howard.

Head coach Avery Johnson announced that the team has added assistant coaches P.J. Carlesimo and Mario Elie. But more importantly, Johnson sounded confident the Nets will be able to make the kind of upgrades to the roster that could make them contenders.

"I think everything's a possibility," Johnson said. "I think whether we sign a guy, from a free-agent standpoint or trade for a guy or two guys or whatever you do, everything is a possibility at this point for our team."

The Nets have reportedly expressed interest in Magic center Howard, whose name has most recently been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, along with Hornets guard Chris Paul. The Nets are also interested in centers Tyson Chandler and Nene, either of which could be paired in the frontcourt with Brook Lopez.

Reports say the Nets have also shown interest in forward Caron Butler and Hawks free-agent guard Jamal Crawford.

"(Nets GM Billy King) is working it overtime," Johnson said. "I'm like Mariano Rivera. Bring me in to close."

Training camp is scheduled to begin Friday.

"This is going to be a season that's abnormal," Johnson said. "It's not going to be your normal training camp. You don't have normal free-agency period. But we will adjust. I'm so excited to be back that if we had to play 66 straight games, I would take it."

It's clear that the Nets will have a lot of work to do in a short period of time. With new coaches on the bench and changes to the roster sure to come, just remembering names might be a challenge. Elie, a Manhattan native who played at Power Memorial, said he was excited to work with Johnson -- who he played with in San Antonio -- Carlesimo and returning assistants Popeye Jones and Tom Barrise, who Elie accidently called Tony.

Elie, who ended a three-year stint as assistant for the Sacramento Kings, was a strong defensive presence in his playing years, when he won a pair of championship rings with Houston and one with the Spurs.

Joining the Nets is also a homecoming for Carlesimo, who sat at the helm at Seton Hall for 12 years.

Johnson was also happy to hear Deron Williams comments Monday that there is a "90 percent chance" that he'll re-sign with the Nets. Williams plans to opt out of his contract after the 2011-12 season, a move that could stand to get Williams one year and close to $30 million more than if he signs elsewhere.

With Williams and Lopez, the Nets have a foundation to build on and money to play with, especially if the team uses the amnesty clause to cut Travis Outlaw, who broke his right shooting hand and will be evaluated by team doctors later Tuesday or early Wednesday.

"I think he wanted to put it to bed, in terms of what he was thinking," Johnson said of Williams. "I think it makes sense for him to do exactly what he's doing, obviously with the rule changing a little bit. We're just excited that he's happy to be here. There's a possibility, a strong possibility, that we're going to have him not only this year but in years to come."

Christopher Hunt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.