Originally composed in May 2012, consider where the now-Brooklyn Nets are now versus where they were in the previous season, based on the following column.
Much better, I’d say, but still, the team has floundered and undergone some very painful moments with Avery Johnson being fired as coach after the Christmas Day 2012 game, Kris Humphries being removed from the rotation by current coach P.J. Carlesimo. Former NBA All-Star guard Joe Johnson is now on the team, as is former All-Star forward Gerald Wallace, and 2013 All-Star center Brook Lopez has broken out and become the most important player on the team.
Now, the Nets have to contend with the fact that they must improve enough to win a championship, necessitating that they conquer LeBron James and the Miami Heat (and perhaps the New York Knicks), but it will prove difficult. No matter how many co-signs the Nets get from minority owner Jay-Z, or how much money that majority owner Mike Prokorov throws around, the Nets’ path is clear.
And Nets general manager Billy King somehow has to make it alright.
But still, consider where the Nets were just a year ago from the following words, and judge for yourself how far they’ve come and far they still have to go.
I’m not exactly sure about Billy King.
I don’t hate Billy King. He’s intelligent, polished, and very successful as a businessman. He’s been at the helm of some of the more memorable runs in NBA history, when he and Allen Iverson were a part of the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s earned the trust of the Nets and its most important figure, owner Mike Prokorov. However…King has also but a part of the quizzical moves (or lack thereof) of what is now the former New Jersey Nets.
I guess I just don’t really love Billy King.
I don’t begrudge him for trading for Deron Williams. Nets fans like to forget that he was basically a principle reason for Jerry Sloan retiring. King helped save Williams from becoming a league-wide villain in some senses; he did Williams that favor…but it also worked out for the Nets. The morale was raised by having an elite-level player and point guard be a potential cornerstone of the re-branded franchise, and Williams’ being in New Jersey has given fans hope…but hope isn’t the end – it’s merely a reaction to unfulfilled perceived success.
If it sounds like I’m judging King’s performance based on Williams, that’s extremely accurate. King’s legacy, and more grandly, the Nets’ legacy, is defined on what happens with Williams. The mercurial point guard has already said that he’d exercise free agency and that he wanted to win – fine. But in knowing that, the Nets had the opportunity to act. We all saw how pathetically and cowardly Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard carried himself in regards to his decision to stay with the Magic, and how he had been rumored to be a future Net for all of this season before he opted in, but that’s the thing – he opted IN. Knowing this, King should’ve made it absolutely full-proof that the Nets would get compensation in the case that Williams should leave, because after all, the Nets are losers and have no other stars at the present moment, and should he leave the team, the organization would be entering into a new city, indoor stadium, and community with no major assets, and put itself in a place of financial ruin for the near future.
All because King decided not to sure up his team.
I get it. Williams has been very loyal in his time with New Jersey and has shown positive signs of being with the team…but understand, his loyalty is on company time, while he’s been under contract. Most stars are “loyal” to their teams while under contract, and are obligated to do so, because guess what? They’re UNDER CONTRACT.
As of now, no major free agents are available on the market besides Williams, and the Nets have so little talent that the odds of trading for Howard are significantly lessened. The Nets are not in a position to be a winning club for realistic championship aspirations for some time, and for a guy like Williams, who has chiefly expressed a desire to compete for a title and has watched his star peers play for championships all throughout his seven years, I’m sorry to say it, but the Nets aren’t looking good in re-signing him.
All because King decided not to sure up his team.
Yes, he signed Kris Humphries back. Yes, he signed Gerald Green (and thank God that he did). Yes, he got Andrei Kirilenko to come. Yes, Williams has been publicly agreeable about the Nets, but as the common cliché goes about the NBA, “it’s a business, man.” (And that’s not even delving into King’s decision to trade his top draft pick in the upcoming 2012 Draft for Gerald Wallace, a former All-Star forward that will also be exercising his own free agency and is likely to leave.)
So yeah, King is tied to the actions of his point guard. He could’ve sent Williams to Atlanta for Josh Smith, or Boston for one (or some) of The Big Three; he could’ve taken him to Detroit, or Dallas, or Golden State; Houston…Memphis…Miami…the list goes on. There would’ve been multiple draft picks, All-Stars, and the return of a much-improved roster.
Now? The Nets are moving to Brooklyn with no sure signs of having anyone to build around in the process. The Playoffs can’t even be discussed. Championships? Ha!
Don’t blame Deron Williams if he goes to Dallas or gets sign-and-traded to Miami for Chris Bosh. If either of those two things happen, blame the King.
Long live the King?
Sandy Dover is a veteran feature columnist and Contributor for Yahoo! whose work has also been heavily featured by SLAM Magazine, and affiliate partners of ESPN, such as TrueHoop and The Shadow League, among other major publications. A media producer, as well as a published author, Sandy is an industry specialist and expert concerning the NBA, footwear and sportwear product, lifestyle & fashion, and fitness & training. You can find Sandy at about.me/SandyDover.