Former Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King told SI that he would like another chance in the NBA and hopes his infamous 2013 trade doesn’t define his entire career.
Billy King wants another chance to help an NBA team in a front-office capacity. He also hopes the infamous trade he engineered while general manager of the Brooklyn Nets in 2013 doesn’t overshadow everything else he did in basketball.
I’m sure Gen. George Armstrong Custer would have liked for his military career to have been known for something besides that little incident at Little Bighorn, too, but Custer — and King — prove that if you make a bad enough decision, that becomes your legacy.
King told Chris Mannix of SI’s The Crossover about the legacy wish.
"“I don’t want that to define my overall basketball career. A lot of good things happened during my time in the NBA. Things like [the trade] overshadow everything else. I know I have a lot more to give. People call to ask about players I have had on my teams.“It does motivate me [to get back], not that I want to erase what happened in Brooklyn, but I want to help.”"
Make no mistake: The trade King made with the Boston Celtics is his legacy.
White, the lone young player Brooklyn got in the trade, played the role of salary filler and was cut less than a week later, while the other three were going to bring their experience to bear in Brooklyn in pursuit of that elusive NBA title.
Yeah, veteran experience. Garnett was 37 at the time of the trade and hadn’t had a completely healthy season since before he was dealt to Boston in 2007.
Pierce would turn 36 before the start of the 2013-14 season and was coming off his worst shooting year in a decade. Terry would also be 36 before the start of the season and had his lowest scoring average since his rookie season — in the previous century — the year before.
So we have five players — admittedly marginal since MarShon Brooks had tailed off so badly in his second season — and three first-round picks for a guy who would be cut in six days and three players with a combined age at the start of the season of a spry 109.
And with this group of championship ring bearers — Garnett and Pierce had led Boston to the NBA title in 2008 and Terry picked up a ring in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks — King turned the coaching reins over to Jason Kidd — who had retired as a player about 10 minutes earlier.
What could go wrong? Well, this. In addition to the three picks, King was convinced to sidestep the Stepien Rule (which forbids teams from trading their first-round picks in back-to-back years) by agreeing to pick swaps in the intervening years of 2015 and 2017.
The pick swaps alone should have been a gigantic red flag for King. Not only was Danny Ainge, the Boston executive who pulled off the deal, more than willing to give up two future Hall of Famers, but he was telling King he thought the deal would be so bad for the Nets that the swaps would help the Celtics.
To be fair, the swap did not happen in 2015 — the Celtics finished below the Nets that season. But the 2017 swap sent the No. 1 overall pick to Boston. That mighta, sorta, maybe coulda helped the Nets a little.
The last time there was a deal this lopsided in New York, it involved the Dutch West India Company, the Lenape Nation and Manhattan Island in 1626.
The deal paid immediate dividends for Brooklyn … if you define dividends as winning five fewer games than the previous season and winning one playoff series.
Pierce was the next to go, leaving to sign as a free agent with the Washington Wizards in the summer of 2014.
King is at least self-aware enough to know another GM job is likely off the table.
"“There is no ego here. I’d just like to help. I look at a lot of teams, I think I could help just giving advice. About the lessons I’ve learned over the years, the mistakes that I have made.”"
I don’t have any enmity toward King. He swung a giant wrecking ball through the franchise, but he’s not a bad guy by any stretch.
But as far as him wanting to advise other NBA teams? I am reminded of the rhetorical question posed by Tom Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men many years ago.
"“Thank you for playing ‘should we or should we not follow the advice of the galactically stupid?'”"
Sorry, Billy. That’s your legacy.