From the desk of: THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH
BROOKLYN NETS: GM Billy King Just Revised The Team's Expectations; Ups The Ante On Owner's 5 Year Title Mandate.
Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov are clearly not operating at the same speed. The general manager is fixed on fulfilling the owner's mandate put into effect three years ago, apparently with every intention of delivering earlier than scheduled.
According to owner Mikhail Prokhorov's time table, the Nets still have two years left to win a championship - this coming season and next. In 2010, the Nets principle owner boldly proclaimed his team would win an NBA title within five years. The final two seasons in New Jersey ended as well as one could expect - horribly, but that was a planned and controlled demolition. You might include among the renovation casualties, former GM Rod Thorn, who I happened to like. Then, in time to inaugurate their first season in Brooklyn and Barclays Center, Mikhail Prokhorov instructed his new GM Billy King to spend money, overhaul the roster and upgrade the overall product.
He did. Among many transactions, King gave Deron Williams a new deal, traded for Gerald Wallace the season prior, signed Joe Johnson, and to his credit assembled a very good bench featuring Andray Blatche. As far as I'm concerned, the regular season was an overwhelming success, but not without its criticism - namely their record against teams with a winning record and a glaring lack of fortitude. In any event, the GM's efforts netted Brooklyn's first ever NBA post-season appearance, but the Nets were eliminated in the opening round by the Bulls, made worse as Chicago played without guard Derrik Rose.
Entering year four of Mikhail Prokhorov's five year plan, Billy King pulled off the attention grabbing trade to bring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics to Brooklyn. On top of that, he declared this team's window to win a title is this year. So there you go. So much for the owner's schedule. Billy King has spoken.
...And apparently, so have Kevin Garnett and particularly Paul Pierce. They came talking trash that didn't sit too well will a few Knicks players. At last check, Paul Pierce and Garnett had rings and can boast if they want to. Tyson Chandler can even chime in. Otherwise, no basketball team in this city has won an NBA title in forty years, nor an ABA title in thirty-seven years. Since then, both teams have won a pair of Eastern Conference championships each.
But that doesn't mean the rivalry isn't on. Because it is. Prokhorov and Billy King seem determined to win the city's next basketball title. Additionally, by co-hosting the All-Star game, James Dolan winds up being the loser, while Mikhail Prokhorov is by default, the real winner.
After three seasons under Mikhail Prokhorov, the Nets are on their second general manager, third head coach, have spent a handsome fortune in salary cap taxes, and has that little guy at MSG chasing his tail in circles. It was Prokhorov who instigated the billboard wars, while the building and completion of Barclays Center sent Dolan scrambling to renovate Madison Square Garden. When the Knicks acquired Melo, the Nets stole the headlines by stealthily acquiring Deron Williams in the middle of the night from the Jazz. Most agreed then, even anonymous Knicks heads, that point guard Deron Williams would have been the more preferable deal to make. It was pressure from the Nets that drove James Dolan to pay such a large price in bodies for Melo in the first place. For a short time the Melo trade left the Knicks roster with a skeleton crew.
Meanwhile, Billy King enjoyed perhaps his second straight dynamic off-season as GM of the Brooklyn Nets. In some paranoid way or manner, I'm sure Billy King's exploits did not go unnoticed by James Dolan. To me, it is no coincidence then, the Knicks mysteriously and suddenly fired their GM Glen Grunwald, and brought back Steve Mills. And why not, ever since the Nets entered Brooklyn, James Dolan has mirrored almost every move made by Mikhail Prokhorov and the Nets. By that measure, I guess the Nets win a title first.