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Billy King says no fire sale, but he's listening

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets are 8-12 going into Friday's game and Billy King had to talk to the media. The Andrei Kirilenko trade was the pretext, but so was the Nets downhill slide. It's not just the 8-12 record and three-game losing streak. It's a sense of malaise, highlighted (low-lighted?) by a blowout losses.  It's only the fourth time in team history that the Nets have lost three straight games by 20 or more points.

King was emphatic that he's not conducting a "fire sale," but he didn't say he wasn't talking to other teams.

"People call, they make offers, you say no. So when you do that it gets out. Somebody says, 'well, they're shopping guys.'" said King. "Does that mean we're having a fire sale? Absolutely not."

But he also admitted that he's disappointed in --and mystified by--  his "Big Three." When asked if he knew what Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez needed to perform better, he said, "If I knew they’d be doing it because I would tell them to do what they’re not doing.... We haven’t played like we expected to play. But I don’t think it’s over. Last year at this time we were having the same conversation but I don't want to wait until we get to that point again."

Does he think his players are incapable of improvement?  "Not really, I think we got the players to do that but we've got to play better basketball as a group collectively and I think this group is capable of it."

But he added, time is of the essence, despite the easy route to the playoffs afforded by playing in the East. The team can't wait to start playing better. Yes, he said the Nets still have expectations of playoffs.

King is not alone in talking about what the team has to do and how it has to think. In an interview with Johnette Howard of ESPN New York (and formerly of Newsday), Lionel Hollins said don't expect him to back off his combative style. And don't be surprised, writes Howard, if he recommends change. Personnel changes were part of Hollins' M.O. in Memphis, she notes. Memphis overhauled its roster between his first and second years, weeding out those who weren't Hollins players.

"It's not about any individuals," Hollins told Howard. "It's about winning."

"I am combative. I'm not afraid of conflict or confrontation. I am confrontational,'' Hollins adds. "As a leader, you have to be. I mean, what do you get out of people if you just sit back and let them do what they want to do, without any confrontation? My feeling is there can be no change without confrontation. You go back through history, every change had some kind of conflict before there was change. Nobody is doing something different because they want to. It's because somebody creates conflict that makes them."