It's sorta premature, if not crazy talk, to wonder who Brooklyn will want to sign in free agency other than the big names. After all, they will need to restock their woeful bench. But who is "Brooklyn" right now other than ownership The Nets don't have a GM or a coach. They do have a strategy --use their "core" to attract free agents. Whether that withstands the hiring of a new GM/coach combination also has to be a factor.
Prior to being "reassigned," Billy King was working the free agency issue in his East Rutherford offices. There were players he liked and players he didn't. Now, that work is little more than scouting reports and back-of-the-envelope salary calculations. Not a plan. There will be a new regime. The real decisions will be made by the new guy in the new corner office overlooking the New York skyline.
Whoever replaces King may or may not feel the same way King did about players and may adjust recruiting priorities. Here's three examples of how the old conventional wisdom might get thrown out with the old regime.
-- Lance Stephenson . King did not like the Brooklyn native ... at all. While some in ownership and management wanted him to take a chance on Lance who they could have marketed big-time, King resisted mightily. As reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, the main players in a proposed deal King resisted last January were Joe Johnson on the Nets end and , Gerald Henderson and Marvin Williams on the Hornets end. Stephenson, now with the Clippers, makes $9 million this season and has a team option, also at $9 million, for next year. it's highly unlikely the Clips will want all that money on the cap next year, considering that the 6'5" swingman is averaging a mere 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Stephenson has found his shooting stroke this season, and had his best game this season against the Lakers Saturday night, scoring 16 points. Would the next GM be willing to take a risk on the Lincoln High School product, maybe at the vets minimum? There won't be much competition, but would a new GM want to burden his new coach with managing someone like Stephenson?.
-- Evan Turner . It was a barely held secret. King saw Turner as a good player, good guy miscast in Boston. The feeling was reportedly mutual. Turner, taken No. 2 overall by the 76ers (after King left Philly), is playing reasonably well for Boston, putting up decent numbers as he usually does -- with the exception of three point shooting -- across the board. He can pass, he can rebound, he can get to the rim. and there was some inkling the Nets saw him as big point guard. The problem, of course, is that he is a horrid three point shooter, hitting 14.8 percent of his shots beyond the arc this season and less than 30 percent for his career. What will he command? He makes $3.4 million this year. It's hard to imagine a new GM being as enamored of Turner as King was but you could do worse, at the right price.
-- Juan Pablo Vaulet . No one ever said it directly, but there are enough hints to imply that the Nets wanted to bring Vaulet up from Argentina this off-season and sign him to an NBA contract, not a D-League deal. They wanted to make sure his ankle, surgically repaired in August, was fine, then make the decision. His Argentine team's owner, Pepe Sanchez, is a friend of King's and Frank Zanin's since their Philly days. He has publicly said he won't stand in the Nets way if they want to sign him. In fact, he recommended Vaulet to King. Zanin was in Argentina in December to scout Vaulet and talk with him. Since then, Vaulet missed four games with an inflammation of the same ankle he hurt last summer. He's back now.
The Nets have already invested a lot in the 19-year-old. They sent Charlotte two second rounders and $880,000 in cash on Draft Night for his rights. They were going to showcase him in the summer leagues last July until he got hurt. They had their own foot-and-ankle specialist, Dr. Martin O'Malley, do the surgery and their strength and conditioning coach, Trevor St. Agathe, put together a rehab regimen. There is, however, divided opinion in NBA circles on whether the 6'7" swingman is close to being ready for the NBA. He's not a good shooter, for example. A new GM could sign him to an NBA deal or a D-League deal, retaining his NBA rights but not have him count against the NBA roster. Or he could do nothing and just wait. There'll be no summer league to scout Vaulet, however. He'll likely play for the Argentine national team in the Olympics.
There may be other players King and Zanin like(d), but who a new GM would not ... and vice versa Certainly, a new GM would have his own list, particularly those GM candidates who come from a scouting backgound like Arturas Karnisovas and Gersson Rosas. And don't forget what Woj reported: Ownership wants the next GM to do a better job scouring the international markets for free agents. The fun begins in July ... at least we hope it will be fun.