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Billy King on the business of basketball ... and other things

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Billy King spoke at the same sports business symposium that Brett Yormark did this week and just like he did with Yormark's comments --about wanting to "own the city" -- The Record's John Brennan has written up King's comments as well.

King spoke about a lot of things --including how he and his scouts mine players social media-- but perhaps the most interesting was about where basketball and business intersect. King was president of the 76ers, not just GM, and so knows both sides.

The GM, who's done a number of these events recently, talked specifically about how the Nets use their "Brooklyn brand" as a way of marketing the team beyond fans in New York and around the world ... to NBA free agents.

"We’ve gone to China, we’ve gone to Russia, the color palette, the ‘B’, and the building itself [the Barclays Center]. It’s great when players look around and see it for the first time. It’s a good recruiting tool for free agents," said King, adding the brand works both ways, that he wants the players to engage Brooklyn. "Now we’ve learned about the different neighborhoods. We’ve got players now willing to live there. We’ll be practicing there."

He also noted that a priority now, with the team "rescaling and adding some young players," is to introduce those players to younger fans. "If they grow up with those guys and have their jerseys, they’re going to become lifelong fans… The kids make the decisions."

On the question of whether he and Yormark will ever discuss player personnel, King said it happens, but that basketball will be the final determinant.

"I talk to Brett all the time, (Yormark says three or four times a day) talking trades, there are times Brett goes, ‘That helps sell tickets,’ and I say, ‘I know that, but as far as basketball I don’t know if it’s good.’"  (In fact, say insiders, there was such a discussion recently, centered around Lance Stephenson, perhaps the greatest high player in Brooklyn history.  Some in the organization liked the idea of bringing him back, but King was never convinced it would work basketball-wise.)

The same holds true with international players and the team's desire to build a global brand. "At the end of the day, it’s about getting the best players. If they happen to be European, great, if they’re Latin Americans, even better, but it’s about trying to get the best players."