At his first public event since becoming Kim Kardashian's fiancé and hiring a new agent, Kris Humphries was talking like somebody ready to explore his options.
Careful not to concede anything at the negotiating table, Humphries sidestepped questions Wednesday about his free agency and declined to echo his previous statements about preferring to re-sign with the Nets.
His focus, he said, was on the ailing children he visited on Wednesday as part of a charity appearance at the Hackensack Medical Center. When asked if he still wants to return to the Nets - which he declared multiple times at the end of the season - the 26-year-old power forward cited the expiring CBA as the reason to avoid all discussions about his basketball future.
"We have to take care of the lockout first and from there my agent is just going to handle the process," he said. "Lay everything out."
"I know you have a bunch of questions, but mostly I want to center it around my experience here and knowing life isn't all just about sports and free agency and stuff like that," Humphries said. "It's a lot about giving back. A lot of people are in need so I'm trying to focus on that today."
Humphries is an unrestricted free agent coming off a career year and a good fit with Brook Lopez, but his seven previous seasons were as a low-scoring backup. The Nets, specifically coach Avery Johnson, have publicly expressed their desire to re-sign Humphries, just as Humphries has publicly expressed his desire to be part of the move to Brooklyn. He even toured the Barclays Center construction site in April.
It's also a clue that Kardashian, who accepted a 20.5-karat engagement ring from Humphries last month, treats New York as her second home, next to L.A.
The Kardashian Empire is worth much more (reportedly $65 million last year in reality shows alone) than an NBA contract. But Humphries, who appears in the latest "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" series, needs to look out for himself. Kardashian plans to sign a prenup before the wedding.
The Nets have other options at power forward. David West's ACL surgery in March won't preclude the Nets from reaching out. He's not as good a rebounder as Humphries, but fits better with Deron Williams because of a consistent jumper off a pick-and-roll.
West opted out of his contract with the Hornets on Monday after reaching an All-Star level as sidekick to Williams' on-court nemesis, Chris Paul.
Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young is a restricted free agent and a former draft pick of GM Billy King, but is neither a proven starter nor the type of down-low bruiser needed to supplement Lopez's lack of aggression on the boards.
The Nets last week drafted a power forward, Jordan Williams, in the second round.