Saturday, May 16, 2015

Brooklyn Nets: Billy King and the Mess of Flatbush

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

The Five Year Mission Failed.

BROOKLYN NETS: Instead of celebrating their first NBA championship, the Hoops of Flatbush are facing a rebuild without any nails, hammers, or wood, and the wrong guy in charge.

Yeah.., ouch!  Keep reading.

In the last three seasons, the Nets went from a 49-33 record during their inaugural season in Brooklyn, to a 44-38 record in 2013-14, to posting a sub par 38-44 record this past season in what proved to be a very weak Atlantic Division, and Eastern Conference.

That's called regression.

Let's jump right in, then, with the Atlanta Hawks recently opting to swap #1 picks with the Nets, as is their right dating back to the Joe Johnson trade.  The Hawks #29 overall pick in the upcoming 2015 draft now belongs to the Nets, while Brooklyn's #15 overall pick is headed to Atlanta.

Since we're on the subject of draft picks, the Boston Celtics will benefit from Billy King's benevolence till the year 2018.  As part of the trade to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics received the Nets 2014 #1 pick, and are still due the Nets 2016 #1 pick, the option to swap 2017 #1 picks, and the Nets 2018 #1 pick.

Moreover, heading into Summer the Nets suffer from incredible salary cap inflexibility, not to mention being indebted to the NBA's luxury tax.  On that note, Alan Anderson, Thaddeus Young, and Brook Lopez, can all opt of of their deals and become a free agents.  If Billy King has intentions to retain Lopez and Young, it will potentially cost him yet more money.  That would leave very little to address the team's greater deficiencies.

Those are just some of the enduring ramifications stemming from Billy King's tenure, and five year (or three year..) failed mission to win his boss an NBA championship.

The NBA's most expensive team is now in need of a complete overhaul, although one is not likely because Billy King has created an unmanageable, and in all likelihood, an immovable mess.

When I last chimed in, I was about to lambaste Jarrett Jack for an utterly pathetic defensive effort in Game 5.  But, after getting blown out by the Hawks in Game 6, that became a moot point.

Today, the Nets situation is less promising than its ever been on Flatbush.  Meanwhile, Billy King still has one more year left in his contract.

Does this mean the Nets will be challenged to win 35 games next season?  My answer to that is - Once is an event, Twice is a coincidence, and Three times is a trend.  Read into that what you will.

All I know is that Joe Johnson said this -

"We never had that (chemistry) going into seasons.  That's probably the thing that hurt us most because you can have coaching changes but as players, you have to have cohesiveness to be successful in this league."

That's on Billy King, for his revolving door of both coaches and players.

This much I do know.  Billy King's 4th head coach in three years is astonishingly blunt, brutally honest, but speaks the truth.   Lionel Hollins demoted, and made bench players of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez.  I have yet to decide whether all of it helped, or hindered the team.

Among his more biting critiques:

On Deron Williams -
"He's not a franchise player anymore."
On Brook Lopez -
"He has some limitations.  ...there's a lot more that goes into a franchise player than just skill, so I don't even want to go there." 
On the team -
"I thought we had a higher basketball IQ as a group than we did.  I thought we had more toughness and all of that.   
...looking from the outside, that's why I always say until you come in and coach a team you don't know for sure.  I thought the skill level was better..."


He basically dumped all over Billy King's creation, and in fact, dumped on them all season long.

I don't know how King is going to improve this team.  He's got the entire organization in a bind.  We do not know if Mikhail Prokhorov has true intentions to sell, and if he's just trying to maintain a positive image.  That might explain why Mikhail Prokhorov hasn't fired him yet.

King's failure on the court should only be part of the owner's reasoning.  Marketing wise, I'd be focusing on Billy King's failure to seize the city as the Knicks were falling flat on their faces.  Over the last two seasons, Brooklyn was the only NYC representative in the playoffs, and as such, failed to encroach on the Knicks' popularity, never mind seizing the moment (or a Borough).

This is still a tenuous time for professional basketball in Brooklyn.  So far, fans kept their side of the deal.  They packed Barclays Center, and in all honesty, sometimes I had my doubts.  This can be a very apathetic, and on the more positive side, an ambivalent town.  The organization should now act before they lose something more than just games and money.  They need to worry about sustaining interest.  Therefore, a proactive approach is in order.

Billy King has been the architect of an incredible mess on Flatbush Avenue.  Someone else should be brought in to dismantle it, then rebuild it, quickly.


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