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Woj: Billy King safe as long as Mikhail Prokhorov owns Nets

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Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

In a lengthy interview with Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno (mostly Evan), Adrian Wojnarowski said that he believes Billy King's job is safe as long as Mikhail Prokhorov owns the Nets.

"I think he will continue to go forward here on the job," Woj said after a lengthy answer to a Roberts question about whether the Nets GM is on "the hot seat." "The way it's been told to me is he will continue there with this ownership group."

If Prokhorov sells, he said, the new owner will likely evaluate a lot of things, including King's contract which has a year and $3.5 million left to run. But he said that "there's no telling a timetable right now."

Woj did say the interest in the Nets is high, that the team could be the second NBA franchise to sell for $2 billion.

"They're going through the process and there's a lot of interest because it's Brooklyn and it would be a vanity. I don't know if they're worth $2 billion but there's people willing to pay it, to own one of the teams in the league and to own a team in New York," he said. "So I think they may get the number they want on a sale."  The team's current state has little to do with the franchise value, he argued.

Short-term, Woj sees Brook Lopez as the most likely Net to be traded, but that the two teams most interested in Lopez earlier this year --Denver and Oklahoma City-- have not yet "re-engaged" with the Nets.

"I think they still have interest in Lopez but they have not re-engaged. That could start up again possibly," said the Yahoo! Sports writer. "But Oklahoma City was pretty adamant on 'here's the package we want to do for him.' They
didn't want to give up any more. Now, they may feel differently at the trade deadline but maybe they get the Nets involved in a three-way or maybe a four-way."

Charlotte's interest in Joe Johnson, he suggested, probably died with their acquisition of Mo Williams and "Joe
Johnson just makes so much money." Deron Williams? "That contract, if you suspected you'd be unable to move it, you know now that you're not moving it with the money left on his deal and the state of his game right now. It's not going to happen."

Long term, he was more optimistic. "When they have cap space again and when they can go back on the market, they should be attractive to big free agents. They should be in that mix with the LA's, the Bulls and obviously New York."

Here's the full transcript of the segment of the interview that dealt with the Nets.

On Billy King:

"The question in Brooklyn is with ownership and how soon Prokhorov will sell his share of the team.
Billy signed a three year extension last year so he's in the second year of a three year deal. I think, the way it's been told to me is he will continue there with this ownership group. You usually don't see high management changes when a team is sold. If someone is going to buy the team and come in, they want to come in and look at, they want to make a decision on who the new GM is or a potential new GM. So I think for right now, as long as Prokhorov owns the team, I don't see a change in the offing. I think it would be ... especially when you're in that place where a new owner, someone is going to pay $2 billion to buy the Nets, they're going to want to put in their own management or at least have a say in examining King and how they're going to go there.  So, I think barring this team getting sold in the short term here and then the league approving the sale I think he will continue to go forward here on the job."

On a potential sale:

"They're going through the process and there's a lot of interest because it's Brooklyn and it would be a vanity. I dont know if they're worth $2 billion but there's people willing to pay it, to own one of the teams in the league and to own a team in New York. So I think they may get the number they want on a sale. Its a pretty select group. It's different from the group that's going after Atlanta, where you're looking at maybe half that price. Listen, a lot of people want to own NBA teams. There's a lot of heavy hitters who tried to get involved in buying the Clippers, a lot of Hollywood-based, LA-base groups, California tech industry-based guys who really want to own teams and certainly the Nets --forget the state they're in now, the state of the team-- there's a real appetite to get involved and try to buy them. But there's no telling a timetable right now."

On the Prokhorov Effect:

"He's an absentee owner. This idea that he was going to have a great impact with free agents, players. Now they wound up doing most of their ... they tried in free agency and struck out. Then, they went all in on the Deron Williams and the Gerald Wallace and then brought in Pierce and Garnett, it was all through trades. But he's been an absentee owner. In this league, you've got to be involved, really put your imprint on it. If you look at successful organizations, you can't do it from across the world. I dont care who you put in place to be here and do it. You have to be a part of that. And I think he could have an impact if he was around but he wasnt and so, we all oversold what his impact would be. Spending money and going deep into the luxury tax --we saw it with the Knicks-- just doesn't work and you're seeing the results of that now."

On the value of moving the team to Brooklyn:

"When they have cap space again and when they can go back on the market, they should be attractive to big free agents. They should be in that mix with the LA's, the Bulls and obviously New York. They should have an advantage if they have a well run organization. There's a lot of reasons you'd want to come play in Brooklyn and play in New York. But guys don't just pick teams anymore just based on markets. They want good organizations, they want to win, they gotta see do you have things in place. It's not just enough to say, 'We're the Lakers, we're the Knicks. Just come play for us.' It doesn't work that way in the NBA and it won't work that way for the Nets."

On trade prospects before the deadline:

"It's too soon to tell, Evan. I wish I had an answer for ya. Their talks with Denver, they haven't reconnected on Lopez in well over a week, almost two weeks, at least 10 days, they haven't spoken to Denver. That may start up again. Denver is engaged with a bunch of teams on a few different guys that they have.

"Deron Williams? That contract, if you suspected you'd be unable to move it, you know now that you're not moving it with the money left on his deal and the state of his game right now. It's not going to happen.

"Joe Johnson? I don't know. That's a lot of money for somebody to take on. Charlotte did have interest, but you've seen Charlotte now go out and Arron Afflalo is a less expensive alternative as a rental at shooting guard and you'll see teams going after him. Joe Johnson just makes so much money.

"So I think Lopez would be the one possibility. and Oklahoma City, I think they still have interest in Lopez but they have not re-engaged. That could start up again possibly, but Oklahoma City was pretty adamant on 'here's the package we want to do for him.' They didn't want to give up any more. Now, they may feel differently at the trade deadline but maybe they get the Nets involved in a three-way or maybe a four-way, a bigger deal but that stuff hasn't started to develop yet. I'm sure it will here now. Over the weekend, you'll see a lot of executives are here n New York. A lot of them will be over at Basketball without Borders, looking at the young international prospects and that triggers conversations again with people."

Woj also put little faith in Carmelo Anthony's plan to use All-Star Weekend as a lure for free agents or the likelihood that even a No. 1 draft pick would help.