In 2013, the Nets and Celtics pulled off a blockbuster trade, with the Nets giving up three future first-round draft picks to acquire aging veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to join forces with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.
With one sweeping move, the Nets, at the time, thought they had built a legitimate championship contender. Well, they didn’t. The Nets haven’t still gotten past the conference semifinals since 2003, and of those six players, only one, Lopez, is still in Brooklyn.
Billy King, the general manager who completed the deal, parted ways with the franchise in January.
“Whenever you take a GM job, you’re working for the owner,” King said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “You’re at his mercy and what they really want to do. But also as the GM, you’ve got to try to guide and explain to them what you think is right.”
For owner Mikhail Prokhorov, what was “right” was doing whatever was necessary to win – and sooner rather than later. That’s not a bad thing, but it can become a bad thing if it blinds someone from making sound decisions.
It may have blinded Prokhorov in pushing to acquire three former champions in their mid-30s.
“In Brooklyn, we did want to win now, and we went for it with the Boston trade,” King said. “That year, Brook Lopez got hurt at the beginning of the season. If you add him, I think we would have been a better (team). Deron Williams didn’t start out because he was hurt. We took a calculated gamble and it didn’t work. So when you work for owners in any sport, it’s their team and you try to go with their guidance and what they want to do, and then you try to educate them and you try to advise them. But at the end of the day, it’s their call.
“The one thing I said when we did the interview, when I interviewed with them (in 2010), is I said, ‘At the end of the day, I look at it as a partnership. We’re going to work together, and when we make decisions, we make them as a group,’” King recalled. “I think we did that. It didn’t work, they went in a different direction, I’m still friendly with them today and I don’t begrudge them. If I’m going to spend $400 million or $500 million to buy a team, I’m going to want to try to do it my way. It didn’t work, but they’ve got some young pieces there. I don’t think it’s as bleak as this year it may be, but the next couple years, I think they have a chance to run. I think Sean (Marks) will do a great job.”