Billy King on Jason Collins: 'Some people will say it was marketing, but we needed a basketball player'

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King was on with Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio this morning to talk about the signing on Jason Collins and the prospects of the Nets doing some damage in the playoffs this year.

Here is the complete transcript from their conversation:

When did you first start having the discussions about signing Jason Collins?

"When we were putting the team together at the beginning of the season, and we needed bigs, Jason (Kidd) brought his name up, and then when we signed other guys there was not a need. Then as we were going throughout the season, Jason talked about our interior defense. When Kevin (Garnett) is out there he’s our anchor, and when he’s out, we have Mason Plumlee, who’s a rookie and he gets a lot of quick fouls, and then some of our other guys are not as good interior defenders. So, we’ve been looking for someone, and Jason (Collins)’s name had always surfaced there. We tried to do it via the trade at the deadline and couldn’t get that done. Knowing on this trip that we have a back-to-back with LA, and KG most likely may not play, the goal was that we may need to bring someone in, and with Jason being in LA, we had worked him out during the All-Star break, it was the right time and the right fit for us."

Was there a discussion with Jason Kidd and some of the players before you made this move?

"Yeah, Jason (Kidd) had some conversations with some of the veteran guys back before the All-Star break, just approaching the idea with them, get their thoughts on it. I had spoken with ownership just to get their thoughts, so it wouldn’t be something we’d ‘just do,’ we’d go at it and make the best decision for the basketball team and for everybody involved. So, this conversation had started before the break, and that’s when we worked him out during the break, also."

What role did Mikhail Prokhorov play in this decision?

"I bring up players that we’re looking to inquire, they ask my thoughts, as what Jason Kidd thinks and say, "alright, if you guys think it’s good, let’s go for it." It was, "we’re thinking about this," and, "Ok, sounds good." It wasn’t a lengthy political debate."

What about the media and handling it on Sunday night?

"Some people say, "Why did we have a press conference?" Before the game players have to be made available, pre- and post-game. And generally it’s done in the locker room. And when you have the visitor’s locker room you don’t have as much space, so we were going to do it in the locker room, because every member of the media that has a credential can go in there, but then you’re, one, it’s not feasible because of space-wise, and then you’re encroaching others who are trying to get dressed for the game. So, that’s why it was done in the Lakers’ media room, as well as the post game, for space and accessibility."

"But, from our standpoint, we made a basketball decision. Obviously people will say it was marketing, but we needed a basketball player. If and when we decided to sign him, in that game last night Mason (Plumlee) picked up two fouls, (Andray) Blatche picked up two fouls, and we weren’t able to stop (Pau) Gasol inside. And Jason (Collins) was able to come in and do that. So, that was the decision, we needed some interior defense. We were hoping, we tried to get Glen "Big Baby" Davis when he became a free agent, but he chose to go to the Clippers, and once he did we went with Jason."

How do you feel about your team’s potential to be at its peak and maybe do a little damage in the playoffs?

"Well, health is going to be a big part. I think that’s what hurt is in the beginning of the year, and right now we’re dealing with injuries with Shaun Livingston, who has a bruised tailbone, so we need to get him back on the floor. And if we can stay as healthy as possible I think we have a good shot. You’d like to stay out of the 7th or 8th spot, the goal is try to win the Atlantic Division, but if you stay out of the 7th and 8th spot you don’t have to face Miami or Indiana in the first round because they’re the two favorites — I always say Miami is the favorites because they’re the defending champions. But I like the way our mindset and approach to the game are starting to gel. It took a little longer than I thought but I think injuries played a big part of it."

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