Twice a year, under the previous administration, we would do a report card on the front office's latest moves...once at the beginning of the season, once after the trade deadline. Called the "Rod Thorn Report Card" or the "Thornski Report Card", it evaluated and graded every move the front office made.
So we continue the tradition, with the "Killer B's Report Card", borrowing Gary Sussman's nickname for Billy King and Bobby Marks. One thing we've learned over the years as we graded different moves, F''s can become A's, and alas, A's can become F's as time goes by.
With that in mind, here's our take on the "Killer B's"...and suffice it to say that the tone of this article would have been quite different if written at 10:54 a.m. Wednesday, just before Al Iannazzone famously tweeted his breaking news about an impending trade. Bottom line: All along, they wanted to use their assets to get a star. In the end, they did just that. All of the assets (the extra picks, Derrick Favors, Devin Harris on a reasonable contract) were acquired by Thorn, but King had an opportunity or two to spend them less wisely. He didn't.
July 14, 2010 - King hired by Mikhail Prokhorov (A-). Let's just call that the overall grade for King and Marks. King's getting a lot of credit, deservedly so, for the Deron Williams trade, and took a lot of heat, also deservedly, for the Carmelo Fiasco. But the two of them did a lot of other things in his first seven months on the job, most of it good. There was the trade for Sasha Vujacic, the Springfield Armor hybrid deal and major upgrade to the team's infrastructure, from building up basketball operations to pushing for a state of the art locker room facility. Takes some time.
July 19, 2010 - Named Sam Mitchell, Larry Krystkowiak, John Loyer, Popeye Jones and Tom Barrise assistant coaches (A). One thing we like about Billy and Bobby is that there is no reluctance to spend Mikhail Prokhorov's money. By adding assistant coaches and scouts and a team chef, etc.,etc, they have shown a wilingness to get the most out of the boss's cash hoard. It's going to be a continuing theme here.
July 26, 2010 - Named Bobby Marks assistant general manager (A). Marks is a Nets lifer, going from intern to assistant GM. Here's another theme: Rewarding loyalty. Marks played a lesser role under Thorn, but pulled off some neat tricks, like getting two draft picks for Marcus Williams as he headed out the door.
August 7, 2010 - Signed forward Sean May to veteran's minimum deal, with $100,000 guaranteed (B). Why such a high grade for the signing of a guy who never suited up? Again, it's about spending money. This signing signaled that the Nets, who hadn't given out a partial guarantee in three years ($25,000 to Robert Hite), were willing to compete even for the smallest pieces. Waived September 7 after an injury.
August 11, 2010 - Traded guard Courtney Lee to the Houston Rockets in a four-team deal that yielded forward Troy Murphy from the Indiana Pacers (D). Seemed like a good idea at the time. Lee wanted out and Murphy looked like just the kind of player the Nets could use: a stat-stuffing 6'11" power forward who, to make things all the better, was the 13th New Jersey native to play for the New Jersey Nets (and maybe the last). It cost the Nets cap space and Murphy never fit it after a series of injuries. It did ultimately give Kris Humphries a shot.
September 10, 2010 - Signed Joe Smith to a veterans' minimum contract (D). Smith was supposed to mentor Derrick Favors and give the Nets some minutes at PF. After starting the first two games of the season, it became obvious he had little to nothing left.
September 10, 2010 - Hired Milton Lee director of basketball operations (A). Lee had been brought on by his college chum and Prokhorov deputy CEO Christophe Charlier even before the Russians bought the team. Another example of how the team is spending money. Lee, former intern to the 1992 Dream Team and basketball junkie, is handling the interface between technology and basketball, working with Patrick Spurgin, the team's new video coordinator, statistical consultants and Barclays Center architects.
September 15, 2010 - Signed Stephen Graham to a two-year, partially guaranteed deal (C). Graham got $450,000 upfront this season and $100,000 upfront for next season. A coach's favorite wherever he's played, he's given the Nets minutes and again showed the Nets are willing to work deals even with vets' minimum guys.
September 15, 2010 - Signed Doug Overton as player development coach (A). More coaches, more development. We don't know much about how well he's doing, but he is a tough guy, something a number of young players have shown to need.
September 24, 2010 - Signed guard Eddie Gill and forward Andre Brown (C). Eh.
September 29, 2010 - Waived forward Andre Brown (B). Published report noted that the Nets made an example of his lack of toughness in training camp and quickly dispatched him a an example.
October 6, 2010 - Waived guard Eddie Gill (C). Thus ended Gill's eighth tenure with the Nets, which has to be an NBA record...if anyone would keep such records.
October 19, 2010 - Exercised the contract options on guard Terrence Williams and center Brook Lopez through 2011-12 (C and A). The Nets front office at this point were not enamored of T-Will but still held out hope they could make it work. With the added year, he had additional trade value.
October 22, 2010 - Waived center Brian Zoubek (C). We had hoped another Jersey guy would make the team and are surprised he hasn't played since being cut.
November 11, 2010 - Nets announce that they have agreed to a hybrid relationship with the Springfield Armor of the D-League (A+). When word first came that Prokhorov wanted to upgrade basketball operations, one of the early ideas floated by Marks was a takeover of the Nets' D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor. The proposal languished for a time, but got done. For $250,000, the Nets get operational control of the Armor starting next season. They will hire coaches, scouts, a GM and assistant GM and select the players. One of two teams in the NBA with such a relationship.
November 26, 2010 - Nets dispatch Terrence Williams to the Springfield Armor (B). After being warned this could be his fate for two years, Williams is finally shipped out to the D-League. You can blame him or Avery Johnson or King, but the bottom line is that it showed a level of seriousness about discipline and his performance--he averaged a triple double--helped improve his trade value.
December 15, 2010 - In a three-team deal, traded Terrence Williams, Joe Smith, the Warriors' second-round pick in 2011 and the Bulls' second-round pick 2012 for Sasha Vujacic , the Lakers' 2011 first-round pick, protected 1-18, and the Rockets' 2012 first round pick, protected 1-14 (A). The Nets initial priority in this deal was dumping Williams. In the first version, Williams was going to the Lakers, then the deal expanded. Williams has been at the end of the Rockets' bench with 25 DNP-CD's while Vujacic, freed from Phil Jackson's doghouse, is averaging 11, 3 and 2 as the Nets sixth man. The Nets retain both picks.
February 1, 2011 - Signed guard Orien Greene to a 10-day contract (A). Again a high grade for a minor move because of what it says about the change in the team's operating principles. Greene was the Nets' first 10-day contract since Donnell Harvey in 2005. That's six years. They hadn't called up a D-Leaguer in years either.
February 21, 2011 - The Nets six month long pursuit of Carmelo Anthony ends as he is traded to the Knicks (F). Yes, we know they needed a superstar. Yes, it showed a different, never-say-die mindset, but as of 10:59 a.m. Wednesday, this looked like an epic fail. The owner thought the team has lost three to five games because of the distraction, a key rookie's development was hindered, relationships were tattered, the owner's reputation, one of the team's key assets, was heavily tarnished and the Knicks were salivating about using Brooklyn-born 'Melo to thwart the Nets' influence in Brooklyn. Then again...
February 23, 2011 - Traded Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two first-round picks and $3 million in cash considerations to the Utah Jazz for guard Deron Williams (A+). Can we give someone more than one "+" sign? One western conference executive gave it 10 extra "+" signs and virtually every pundit called it the best trade of the deadline. There's been some sniping about how the deal could turn into an "F" if he doesn't resign with the Nets. We're saving our analysis of that that silliness for a later post. Suffice it to say that in a matter of hours the Nets got a better player than the one they had been pursuing for six months...at half the price.
February 23, 2011 - Traded forward Troy Murphy and a second-round pick to the Golden State Warriors for forward Brandan Wright and center Dan Gadzuric (C+). This one was about recovery. If Wright in particular shows he's worthy of keeping...he's a restricted free agent...then the Nets did well and we'll give them the same grade John Hollinger did, a B+. If not, drop the grade to a D and move on.