Billy King is working to try and rebuild franchise that last season flirted with historic futility. That is not planting a tree in the backyard work, that is building the Panama Canal work (just with a smaller chance of catching malaria). The Nets need a lot of things.
But New Jersey GM King has new, driven ownership behind him flush with cash. He has the green light and is going to shake things up, likely more than once. The Nets have been rumored to be in the middle of the biggest potential trade in the league this season. So what King told the Star-Ledger is not exactly a shock.
“We’ll probably do some deals before the deadline, I’m pretty sure,” King said. “When you have your record like we are, you’ve got to do some things to get better.”
So when Mikhail Prokhorov promised the playoffs 6-18 on a seven game losing streak was not what he had in mind?
The problem with Prokhorov’s boast is that the short-term goal of making the playoffs could well differ from building a winner long term. And the real goal needs to be a team that contends in three years or so. Good young players need to be given a chance to learn on the job — not good for winning now, exactly how you win down the line.
King, to his credit, seems to get this. Based on his words, he’s not getting sucked in for short-term gain, he’s got his eyes on the prize. And that prize is in Brooklyn.
But actions speak louder than words. We shall see.
A few days into training camp, George Karl and Carmelo Anthony had a sit down that has been the focus of a lot of speculation. What exactly did Karl say.
He opened up about that a little more on 104.3 The Fan in Denver the other day (transcript by Sports Radio Interviews). Karl is a coach, he’s not a fan of the front office games that go on around the league. What he basically told Melo is that as long as you’re here, I need you really here.
The other thing is ‘Melo and I talked about if you were gonna be here I want to tell you what I was thinking about telling you. I told him that. I told him you gotta make a commitment to be a great player and make a commitment to make the next step to the next level. You still can make another step. The step I think that needs to be made is on the defensive end of the court and as a leader and a professional leader. Not a leader by voice, but by example and attitude. I said I was planning on having that talk with you, then you throw this in the mix. I’m still gonna have that talk with you….
I told ‘Melo this, I said ‘Melo then for the first time in five years or six years, we have some cap space and we have some flexibility. I don’t know what that means. I just want to coach basketball and don’t want to talk about 10 million dollar players and guys that we trade a bunch of bad contracts for a bunch of bad contracts to make a deal and stuff like that. That drives me crazy. That’s a bad part of our game to be honest with you. I just go out and coach the guys we have. The team I have now is going to win a bunch of basketball games. Now are we going to challenge for a championship and can we beat the Lakers? I’m not ready to go there yet, but I’m gonna tell you we’re not far from it.”
The Nuggets made it to the Western Conference finals two years ago, and that is the goal Karl has laid out for this team again. And it’s a reasonable one — if Anthony is in the fold.