Nineteen months ago, the New Jersey Nets general manager Billy King traded for superstar point guard Deron Williams just days after they struck out on Carmelo Anthony at the hands of their cross-river rivals, the New York Knicks.
He knew the Nets needed to enter their future home of Brooklyn with a marketable player to build a strong, stable fan base. The savvy move had a major catch, though, because Williams could become a free agent after only one full season with the team; right when the Nets move into the state of the art, Barclays Arena.
King spoke with confidence that he would add enough talent to convince Williams to stay. Even after Williams endured what he calls his most difficult season in his first full year as a Net, King held off many suitors and stayed true to his word.
NBA fans and analysts chastised the trade deadline deal, giving up a high lottery pick for soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Gerald Wallace. Many speculated the trade could go down as one of the worst in NBA history, but Billy King proved to Williams that the Nets are working at all costs to build a contender in the present. He quickly re-signed Wallace for four years to add a talented, hard-nosed small forward.
King followed this signing by trading for the previously untouchable contract of All-Star Joe Johnson. He gave up all of the Nets’ cap-friendly contracts to acquire the shooting guard just days before Deron Williams planned on making his decision.
Williams later claimed that he was leaning towards signing with the Dallas Mavericks but the trade for Joe Johnson “got [him] over the hump.”
Although King was unable to pry Dwight Howard away from the Magic, he re-signed 24-year-old center Brook Lopez to a max-deal. Although he was overpaid because of market demands, people often overlook Lopez, who averaged over 20 points per game in the 2010-2011 season.
He adds a strong interior presence to the offense that was absent when he was injured last season.
Merely a few weeks ago, Billy King received much criticism from Nets fans who believed he was making a mockery of the organization. Nets fans feared the team would lose Deron Williams and enter Brooklyn without a star player.
To King’s credit, he came through. He made several gutsy moves to create a Big Four and almost surely end the five year playoff drought for the franchise. Although King spent an exorbitant $287 million on these four players, he deserves to be praised because his moves make a contender out of a 22-44 team.
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