Brooklyn Nets: Billy King’s Failure

Back in 2010, the New Jersey Nets had the worst record and attendance in the league that year. It became so bad for them that their cheapest seats were $10. Then, there was a new sheriff in town, the Russian Mikhail Prokhorov. On May 11th, 2010, he bought 80% of the team for $365 Million. He became the first non-North American owner in the NBA. Prokhorov promised his franchise would win a title in 5 years. On July 14th, 2010, the Nets hired Billy King as their GM and Avery Johnson as their new head coach. The New Jersey Nets went all in on recruiting LeBron, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh, but they whiffed on all of them. Despite their best lottery odds, they fell to the 3rd pick, as the Washington Wizards got the 1st overall pick. They ended up drafted point guard John Wall, who has been a key component to the team’s success. In 2010, they drafted Georgia Tech power forward Derrick Favors. The only other guys that were recognizable were guard Devin Harris and youngster Brook Lopez. They started off the 2010 – 2011 season 17 – 40, amid the trade rumors of getting small forward Carmelo Anthony. When they couldn’t get him, they looked for other guys. Then, they found one. The Nets’ version of A.I.: Deron Williams. They traded their 3rd overall pick Derrick Favors and guard Devin Harris along with two future first round picks. (2011 & 2013). They went 7 – 18 after the trade despite the big numbers coming from their new acquisition, Deron Williams. He had an average of 15 points per game, 12 assists, and 4 rebounds.

In the 2011 – 2012 season, Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard was requesting a trade to the New Jersey Nets, while the Nets themselves were struggling to a 15 – 34 record. Although the Nets offered Brook Lopez and a couple of first round picks, the trade was never finalized. Instead, they traded depth players and their 2012 first round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for small forward Gerald Wallace. They ended up finishing the season 22 – 44, missing the playoffs again. This was their last season in New Jersey, as they packed up their things and moved into the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, New York. On July 11th, 2012, they traded away forward Anthony Morrow, depth players, and their 2013 first round pick and 2017 2nd round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for small forward Joe Johnson. The all-star forward averaged 19 points the previous season. This convinced Deron Williams to re-sign with the team as he was offered 5 years and $98.8 Million. Gerald Wallace also re-signed with the team for 4 years, and was worth $40 Million. After a sub-par 14 – 14 start to the 2012 – 2013 season, they fired Avery Johnson and hired P.J. Carlesimo. They ended up finishing strong at 49 – 33 and clinched the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. They lost to the Chicago Bulls in the first round and P.J. Carlesimo was let go.

On June 12th, 2013, they hired former player and franchise player Jason Kidd as their head coach. He was an unproven commodity, but he would lead the Nets to glory. On the same day, they traded Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, and four first round picks (2014, 2016, 2017 swap, & 2018) to the Boston Celtics for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, D.J. White, & Jason Terry. They went all in for a title with that trade as they received high praise for it. These 35-year old men would dominate every team in front of them and bring back the Russian his beloved championship trophy he desired. This would be their starting lineup:

PG: Deron Williams

SG: Joe Johnson

SF: Paul Pierce

PF: Kevin Garnett

C: Brook Lopez

Sixth Man: Jason Terry

Not at all bad, but not a lot of depth in there.

 

They started the season with a disappointing 10 – 21 record, but rebounded and finished the season with a 44 – 38 record.  They ended up beating the dominant Miami Heat 4 times in the season (4 – 0), which was the first time that happened to the Nets since the 2007 – 2008 season. They defeated the Toronto Raptors in 7 games in the first round, but the Miami Heat wanted redemption for losing to them all season long and crushed them in 5 games in the Semi-Finals. This began the downfall for the franchise…

Jason Kidd left to go to Milwaukee, and they hired Lionel Hollins as their replacement. Paul Pierce was represented by the same agent as Jason Kidd, as he left the team in free agency to join the Washington Wizards. This is what he said: “Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate… but I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that… I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes.” They started the 2014 – 2015 season poorly at 18 – 28, and Kevin Garnett was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for forward Thaddeus Young. Deron Williams started to decline as they benched him and even tried to trade him. They just barely made the playoffs again as the 8th seed with a 38 – 44 record, but lost in the first round to the Atlanta Hawks in 6 games. On July 11th, 2015, Deron Williams was waived by the Nets and he later joined the Dallas Mavericks, and were to buyout the remaining two years left of his contract. The 2015 – 2016 season started poorly at 7 – 20, as the Celtics eyed picks and swaps for the next 3 years. Finally, on January 10th, 2016, the Brooklyn Nets let go head coach Lionel Hollins and GM Billy King, as they had the 3rd worst record in the league. They finished the season with a 21 – 61 record and that Billy King trade to the Celtics gave Boston their 3rd overall pick. After several years of playoff contention, the wheels completely fell off of the Nets’ organization. That third overall pick became Jaylen Brown. That next year’s pick for the Celtics became Jayson Tatum. This trade was the NBA’s version of the Herschal Walker trade. If Boston wins a championship soon, they should just build a statue of Billy King outside TD Garden. That pick they gave up for Gerald Wallace, became Damian Lillard. That pick traded away for Deron Williams to the Utah Jazz became Enes Kanter. They also traded away Troy Murphy for pennies on the dollar, including a 2nd round pick. Even that pick became Draymond Green. That Russian owner wanted gold, but instead got pyrite. Brooklyn’s dreams were shattered once again.