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Call them "sneaky good" or "under the radar," but Billy King likes what he sees from his Brooklyn Nets

Jeff Zelevansky

Billy King hadn't spoken to a gathering of Nets beat writers since early July, when Lionel Hollins was announced as head coach following the Jason Kidd power play/debacle.  Since then, of course, the Nets lost out on Paul Pierce, and Shaun Livingston, traded for Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev, signed Bojan Bogdanovic and a lot of other things.

So there was plenty to talk about.

Bottom line, though, was this: King, like his players, are playing predictions low-key, avoiding the championship hype that surrounded last year's team and instead keeping it real ... at least for public consumption.

"We’re not around beating our chests and stuff. The goal is the same as it was the last two years, and that’s still to finish in the top four (in the East) so you have homecourt advantage. I think that’s the goal in the first round.

"I like the fact that everybody is talking about other teams," King told reporter at an NBA Cares event on Staten Island. "Let us focus and do our work. Two years in a row, it was something we created ourselves. We beat our own drum. This year it’s more of let’s just play basketball."

So far he likes what he sees from his team. Brook Lopez played his first 5-on-5 scrimmage Monday, a week after Deron Williams did the same.  He said he imagines Lopez would not participate in both sessions of two-a-day practices that start Saturday. King said  "we'll play by ear" on two-a-days for Deron Williams.  No other Nets have restrictions, he noted.

On Pierce's departure, he was asked if the team wanted him back.

"We did," King said. "That was the plan of attack and I think as we started negotiating, the numbers that they asked for were, you know," King said. "And I thought at one point that he was definitely leaving. And then you started switching gears because you start hearing that he’s going to end up at a different place. So then you start preparing. And then when he came back to us, we already moved on."

He also admitted the team want to reduce its gargantuan $90 million tax bill.

"Our goal is not to be where we were," King said. "We got there last year, but that wasn’t the intent when we started."

King said that while Pierce's leadership will be missed he noted that Kevin Garnett, Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson should make up the deficit. He had particular praise for the 10-year veteran Jack.  He also noted that Mirza Teletovic should help his fellow European (and Mostar, Bosnia, native) Bojan Bogdanovic make the transmission, as will Andrei Kirilenko.

On Willie Reed, King said he wouldn't be bringing in Reed or Jerome Jordan if he didn't think they could make the team.