(Jason Schott – New York Sports Day)
The Brooklyn Nets cleaned house on Sunday, as General Manager Billy King stepped down and Head Coach Lionel Hollins parted ways with the team.
For the remainder of this season, Assistant Coach Tony Brown will serve as interim head coach. The GM position will remain open until a replacement is named.
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement, “After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team. By making this decision now, it enables our organization to use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records. It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership. With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching. We have learned a great deal during the past six years and our experiences will guide us for the future. Following the consolidation of team ownership last month, I can assure you that I’m more determined and committed than ever to build a winner.
“I want to thank Billy for his hard work in the development of the Nets. At every step of the way, he has been aggressive in his quest to build a winning team and has been a key factor toward the Nets making the playoffs for each of the last three seasons. Beyond this, he has been a tremendous friend, wonderful colleague, and loyal partner and we wish him success in the future. I also want to thank Lionel for his efforts and dedication on behalf of the Nets franchise. To our fans, I thank you for your continued enthusiasm and support and please know that brighter days are ahead. I’m excited to begin the process of choosing the best GM and head coach available,” said Prokhorov.
This was inevitable as they are 10-27 after Saturday night’s loss to Detroit. Without Jarrett Jack, who is done for the season with a torn ACL, there is really no hope if making a playoff run with their thin roster.
King became the General Manager on July 14, 2010 and his tenure can be deemed a failure.
The one player who was the face of the King regime was Deron Williams, who King mistakenly thought could be the franchise player when the team moved to Brooklyn in 2012.
As Greg Hryina chronicled so adeptly in “The 5-Year Plan,” every move King made to satisfy Williams turned into a disaster.
King traded the Nets’ first-round pick in 2012 to Portland for Gerald Wallace. That draft picked turned into Damian Lillard, In the 2012 offseason, King sent more first round picks to the Atlanta Hawks for Joe Johnson.
The move that this franchise will take a while to get over is the now-infamous (at least from the Brooklyn side of things) trade with the Celtics that sent Wallace and four other Nets, with three first-round draft picks to the Celtics for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.
King thought that, with a starting five of Pierce, Garnett, Johnson, Williams, and Brook Lopez, they would have a legitimate chance at an NBA championship.
Instead, they stumbled to a 10-21 start before finishing with 43 wins. In the playoffs, they beat the Toronto Raptors in seven games in the first round and then lost to the Miami Heat in five.
If it were up to King, he would hired Lionel Hollins to be the head coach going into the 2013-14 season to lead the veteran team.
Instead ownership, in their quest for stardom, made King hire Jason Kidd just days after he retired as a player from the Knicks.
That is the one thing that King can be scapegoated on because, with Hollins, that might have been a 60-plus win team. Hollins, after all, had an impressive record with the Memphis Grizzlies.
In the summer of 2014, after Kidd bolted for the Milwaukee Bucks, King got to hire Hollins. The problem was Hollins was inheriting a weaker team, as Pierce and Shaun Livingston departed due to the Nets being capped-out after taking on big contracts like Johnson and Garnett was still on the books for the 2014-15 season.
Hollins did the best he could last season, as he led the Nets to 38 wins and they snuck in the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Nets took the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks to six games in a very competitive first-round series.
Hollins’ greatest legacy is what he turned Brook Lopez into. Lopez is now arguably the best center in the NBA, averaging around 20 points and 10 rebounds a game and is tougher than ever.
The problem is that the Nets situation might be the worst in the NBA, as they have no real young stars to build around, and no draft picks for the next few years.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers are also in very tough spots, but those teams have blue-chip players of the last few drafts and they could be pretty good sooner rather than later.
The Nets are heading for a 20-25 win season this year, and it is hard to see how they will win more than that in coming seasons.