Season exceeded expectations, says King, but new coach must inspire team to be more tough-minded

Jeff Zelevansky

In the first part of Ben Couch's interview with Billy King the Nets GM talks about the past season and reiterates that he wants the next coach to instill a sense of toughness in the team, "where you know if you come to play us, it's going to be a dogfight every night." Part II is expected in the next few days.

Mostly, King spoke about how he thought the season exceeded expectations, citing not just the on-court product but the fanbase and staff at Barclays Center. King admitted he had hoped for 50 wins and a second round appearance. Still, he told Couch, "That leaves a little bit of an anxious taste in my mouth ... wanting to get back to work, wanting to get back there because I think we wanted more and i think we left our fans wanting more."

As he's said before, he feels the new coach must push the players. " I think it's got to be the vision of the Brooklyn borough, where it's going to a tough-minded, where you know if you come to play us, it's going to be a dogfight every night. That's what I'm looking for in a coach that will instill that in the team."

Here's some excerpts...

On meeting expectations:

"I think we all had expectations, especially I did, and it certainly exceeded them. I think the fan base was great. I think the building was great and I think the players played up to it. We won 49 games, had some exciting games in the building, but I thought we could have went a little further. So that leaves a little bit of an anxious taste in my mouth ... wanting to get back to work, wanting to get back there because I think we wanted more and i think we left our fans wanting more.

On his biggest surprise:

"I think it was the fanbase but I also think it was the employees. You see them walking around the building, you see the pride they had in the building, the Barclays Center and the borough, seeing the pride they had in team. To me, that was what made it really homecourt. When you walk in the building and see their smiling faces and see you welcome you in. And that wasn't just me. They did it for everybody.

On the season as a whole:

"It was a long year. I think we started great and then we had our low in December. Then, P.J. stepped in and did a good job for us and then, you know, we had some injuries down the stretch that affected us but we got homecourt advantage, which I thought was a goal of mine in the playoffs and then to have gotten 49 wins --I would have liked to get 50-- but to get in the playoffs and to battle back and have a Game 7. Then it ended so quickly. That was probably the bitter pill.

On team chemistry:

"The goal was ... I didn't know how quickly the group was going to gel. When you put that many pieces together, that many guys that were so-called 'their guy" on the team, you don't know how it's going to gel. I thought it did quickly than I thought. But I think the biggest thing was my vision was for us to have homecourt advantage, to finish in one of the top four spots, which we did. But with that, I thought it would help us get to the second round. So that's where the disappointment really came."

On what he wants in a coach:

"One, we got to be patient, but it's to find someone who I feel can take this group collectively and get the most out of them. I think P.J. did this year and I think got us to where we are, but I think we could have gone further, I think, I don't know, you could say a better basketball team. I think we need to create a culture that becomes the identity of the Brooklyn Nets, something where I think it's got to be the vision of the Brooklyn borough, where it's going to a tough-minded, where you know if you come to play us, it's going to be a dogfight every night. That's what I'm looking for in a coach that will instill that in the team.

"I always go back to Coach K because the mindset he always gave us is that people expect to play Duke, and so give them Duke, he always said. So when you go out there, people expect that to be it to be a tough game, a defensive minded game, they're going to be physical. So that's what I'm looking at. Offensively, you've got to be unselfish, the team has to be more important than the individual. If you look at the programs that win, San Antonio, Miami, Chicago, the Lakers over the years, that's what they're all about. The Bulls when Michael was there. It's instilling that the team is always more. Michael Jordan is always Michael Jordan but the Bulls were more important that Michael Jordan. In his mind, he looked at the organization as being the team concept."

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