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Billy King on whether losing Deron Williams was addition-by-subtraction -- "Next question"

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NetsDaily

It was a wide ranging "media availability" that touched on subjects as varied as the value of having a personality like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the team bus to what he told Shane Larkin when he signed him ("be who you were coming out of Miami.")  But so many of the questions Billy King was asked by beat writers Tuesday were cast in the context of the the Deron Williams buyout rather than the team's future.

Finally, at one point, when he was asked whether Williams' loss was "addition by subtraction," King paused, looked at the reporter and said, "Next question."  Ever the politician, King quickly added,

"As I said when the buyout happened, I’m happy for Deron. I think he’s getting a fresh start in Dallas so I’m happy for him. Unfortunately it didn’t work out here to the best of all our likings, but I wish him the best.

"And I do sincerely mean that. When I spoke to him on the phone afterwards, I said ‘I’m happy for yourself and your family, that now you’re in a place where you’re around your family, and now basketball success will come with you.’ For us it’s the same, it’s a new start for us as well, and I think both parties have a chance to start fresh."

Still, King's comments about the current team spoke to what he and others in the front office privately concede: that the Nets are a happier, more positive team this season.

"If you follow our guys on Instagram, social media, and I do, you see them in here, late at night. Some of them have been here since September 1, playing. So that's a good sign. And then when you see them together, going to fashion shows, you can't script that. To me, those are signs that will lead to a great training camp starting next week."

Whether a great training camp will lead to a great season is something else again, but King said the goal is, not surprisingly, the playoffs, explaining that once you get there, "it's a whole new season."

"It depends on how quickly it gels," King said when asked about possibility. "But depending on the scorers, proven guys that can win, we have a chance to make the playoffs."  He did admit that indeed it might take time to gel.

He also said he expects Brook Lopez to be more of a leader and when someone asked about whether Lopez's health was crucial, he responded, "all 15," meaning the health of every player is important.  He said Sergey Karasev is playing 5-on-5 and that he and Chris McCullough will sit down after preseason to talk when he could play. He suggested that the 6'11" stretch 4 could get minutes in the second half of the season.

King also seemed to throw some shade at Phil Jackson and his negative assessments of Larkin and Andrea Bargnani, who the Knicks GM called a "tease" and "malingerer."

"We don’t want our guys out to prove something to someone else. Just play what you’re able to do and prove to yourself. Don’t worry about the outside. We have a lot of guys that have so-called been knocked around by local management in other organizations but they don’t have to prove it to them."

When an Italian reporter asked specifically about Bargnani's role, King offered...

"We’re not looking backwards with him, we’re looking forward. That’s something we told him when we reached out and tried to get him to come here, is you can have a fresh start. We’re not looking at anything you did in Toronto, anything you did in the Knicks. We’re looking at you to come in and be a part of the team. … Don’t worry about living up to anybody else’s expectations but yours."

Near the end of the discussion, King took Dr. Lyle Mason, the retired Jazz physician, to task for his comments about Williams' wrist and "loose ankles."

"I don’t know, I just know there’s HIPAA laws and I believe a doctor wouldn’t be speaking about someone’s medical condition publicly. Then so I’m not gonna do the same because I know there’s a law. I don’t know if a doctor did but I know there’s a law."

Lionel Hollins will face the beat writers Thursday.