Billy King made his fair share of mistakes since becoming General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets. He has been re-assigned to a yet unknown position Sunday after a series of what can only be called crippling transactions.
Sure, Russian ownership, namely Dmitry Razumov, had a large part in plenty of the "act now, worry later" moves that were made, but as GM with the responsibility of overseeing the present AND future of an NBA franchise, King failed to get the job done. He did put his foot down and say no, refusing, for example, to trade for Lance Stephenson, but not enough.. King was an opportunist who believed, like his bosses, in get-rich-quick schemes
We've arranged the key moves in chronological order...
February 2011 (Utah):
Traded: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, unprotected first-rounder in 2011 (Enes Kanter) & first-rounder in 2013 (Gorgui Dieng).
Acquired: Deron Williams.
Nobody could fault King at the time of this trade. The Nets were a season and a half away from moving to Brooklyn and they figured they needed a superstar, having failed the day before to land Carmelo Anthony. He had the resources to make the deal and believe he could convince Williams to ride out the dog days of Jersey and then become the face of the brand spanking new Brooklyn Nets of Barclays Center. Williams was close to averaging a double double when traded to New Jersey. The Nets were desperate. Everyone thought it was an A+ move. Well, everyone except the Jazz front office.
In the grand scheme of things, Williams' one playoff series win wasn't worth all the assets that King gave up. In fact, it played major factor in the issues the Nets have to this day.
March 2012 (Portland):
Traded: Shawne Williams, Mehmet Okur and one lightly protected first-round pick (Damian Lillard).
Acquired: Gerald Wallace.
This was one of the many panic moves from Billy King and the Nets.A few hours after Dwight Howard surprised them by saying he'd stay in Orlando and kill a blockbuster deal, King went for Wallace. The rationale was simple; the Nets wanted to convince Williams they were getting serious about fielding a winner in Brooklyn and Wallace, then a solid vet, fit the bill, they thought. The big issue was that the first round pick was lightly protected because, the Nets claimed, there were only three sure-fire picks in the 2012 draft: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson. Lillard was rookie of the year.
In addition, former Assistant GM Bobby Marks has said, the Nets were only a few games out of the playoff race and they wanted to make a run at it. They immediately went on a four-game losing streak and their playoff hopes were dashed. The worst part of it: they did it to help make D-Will happy, one of a half dozen or more moves that had Williams calling himself, however jokingly, the "assistant GM."
King then signed Wallace to a $40 million contract, arguably the worst in the NBA at the time. He averaged 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds before being traded to the Celtics (see below). The Nets had to give up more in a trade to Boston just to rid Wallace!
July 2012 (Atlanta):
Traded: Expiring contracts (Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Sean Williams & DeShawn Stevenson), Houston's first-rounder in 2013 (Shane Larkin), Brooklyn's second-rounder in 2017, and Atlanta's right to swap first-rounders in 2014 & 2015 (Kelly Oubre for Chris McCullough)
Acquired: Joe Johnson.
This was a combination of a star move and a panic move to show Deron Williams that they were committed to winning. In the midst of Williams' free agent meeting with the Nets brass, the team announced they had swung the move for Johnson and his ridiculous contract. Its intention was twofold: they wanted to convince Williams re-sign with the Nets, but if not, Johnson, not Williams, would be the star Brooklyn needed. Now, here we are with Joe Johnson three seasons later and there's discussions of a potential buyout. During his tenure here, Johnson's won only ONE playoff series.
He's the only "acquired" player on this list that remains on the team.
July 2013 (Boston):
Traded: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, Atlanta's first-round pick in 2014 (James Young), unprotected first-rounders in 2016 & 2018 and Boston's right to swap first-rounders in 2017.
Acquired: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.
The trade that haunts the bottom-feeding Brooklyn Nets who will end up handing over a lottery pick thanks to this. Again, it was another trade that people hardly faulted King with at the time. The Nets were coming off a tough playoff series loss against the gritty Chicago Bulls. They seemed to have everything but leadership and toughness. So, sure, trade for two respected veteran leaders in Pierce & KG. It started simply: Paul Pierce for Kris Humphries and the 2016 pick and expanded slowly but surely on draft day to a six player deal that sunk the Nets future. This trade was heavily endorsed by Russian ownership who saw a chance to win it all. Instead the Nets got off to a horrible start, lost Brook Lopez to injury. Their one playoff victory in the King era, but way below everyone's expectations.
In the end, this has the potential to cripple the franchise for years to come.
Overall received: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett & Jason Terry.
Overall notables lost: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Enes Kanter, Gorgui Dieng, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, James Young, Kelly Oubre Jr. (Washington) and more to be determined.
Still on the team: Joe Johnson. Thaddeus Young was acquired in a trade for Kevin Garnett.
The bottom line:
If you had to grade them, there was nothing worse than the Boston trade for its long-term effects. But the Gerald Wallace trade is a close second. There was so much wrong with that deal and its repercussions and unlike the Boston deal it was roundly criticized.
That's not to say all of King's deals were awful. He recovered an asset in trading KG for Young and his draft picks, for the most part, were fine ... when he had picks to make. Mason Plumlee did make first team all rookie after being taken at No. 22. Bojan Bogdanovic made second team after being taken at No. 31. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, at 23, appears to be steal and we can all be hopeful for Chris McCullough, taken at 29.