While the Brooklyn Nets and their fans can take solace in the fact that their team is competing for a championship thanks to Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, one must not forget the fact that the Nets were a laughingstock for years, and the performance of GM Billy King is one of the main reasons behind the disaster.
King was responsible for trading away most of their premium draft picks, including the selections that later became stars like Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Collin Sexton, to the Boston Celtics in order to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, both of whom were on the back nine of their careers.
The trade got the Nets to the playoffs, but it also left them in a hopeless scenario Sean Marks had to drag them out of.
Despite all of that, King maintains that his trade was centered around bringing Durant to Brooklyn much earlier than the 2019-20 season.
King claimed this week, per Matt Sullivan, that he made the trade for Garnett and Pierce as part of a long con to pry Durant loose from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This take is so divorced from reality it is astounding.
There is no way the Brooklyn Nets have Kevin Durant because of Billy King.
There was no way Durant was coming to Brooklyn in 2013. Oklahoma City was a young contender at the time, and Durant had three more years left on his contract at the time the deal was made. After giving up all of these assets to Boston, what would the Nets even have to give up to OKC?
King hinted that he made the trade to make the Nets a more appealing TV product, but he failed to consider the fact that this team had no future after the Miami Heat took them down. King’s roster was swiftly disassembled, as owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who was hit with sanctions by the US government, didn’t want to pay the luxury tax.
The result was one of the most unwatchable periods of basketball in recent NBA history. Winning didn’t matter, because they didn’t have the players to do so. Losing also didn’t matter, because one of their most hated rivals in Boston owned all of their draft picks. It took Sean Marks to pull them out of this dark age.
By taking on expensive contracts to help Brooklyn win now as well as adding young talent like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and D’Angelo Russell, Marks made the Nets a better team while creating the culture and environment that Durant and Kyrie Irving hyped up when they decided to take their talents to Brooklyn.
King, who helped build the Allen Iverson 76ers before he came to Brooklyn, made some fireable moves even if you take this trade out of the equation.
In 2011, King traded Troy Murphy and a 2012 second-round pick to the Golden State Warriors for Brandon Wright and Dan Gadzuric. The pick eventually became Draymond Green. King passed on Jimmy Butler in the draft that year to take MarShon Brooks.
King traded Mehmet Okur and a 2012 first-round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Gerald Wallace, who went to Boston in the Pierce-Garnett deal. The player Portland took with that pick? Damian Lillard. Oops.
Let’s not sugarcoat things. King was an incredibly destructive presence in Brooklyn, and whatever front office skill he showed in Philadelphia completely evaporated by the time he came to the Nets. Marks is the one who helped make this team what it is today, and King trying to claim he secretly had this great plan up his sleeve makes no sense when analyzed closely.