As King Begins Coaching Search He Says Nets Are Bigger Than Any Individual
By Lenn Robbins
EAST RUTHERFORD – Billy King wasn't about to sling mud, although Lord knows no one would have blamed the Brooklyn Nets G.M. if he did so with a backhoe on Tuesday.
What he did do - and this should serve as a clarion call to all Nets fans - is use another iconic New York organization to illustrate his vision of Brooklyn's premier sports franchise.
"The franchise has to be bigger than one person," King said. "If you use the legendary Yankees, I don't think they sat there and said when they were losing great players over the years that the Yankees were going to fold.
"No one person can be bigger than a franchise or an organization because an organization has got to stand by itself. Players come, coaches come, ownerships come and go. But the brand of the Nets will stay."
With that, King gave a commanding, confident assessment of where the Nets are as he delves into the process to replace former coach Jason Kidd, who bolted Brooklyn for, uh, Milwaukee. The Bucks had the worst record in the NBA last season.
King said he'd like to have a new coach in place soon. He would consider college candidates as well as those with NBA experience but he will not give a candidate with no coaching experience, as he did with Kidd, the job.
"The goal is when we do this to find someone that is going to be here for a long time and move forward," said King.
King has been moving at a blistering pace. He said he had dinner Monday night with Lionel Hollins, an experienced NBA coach, and planned to meet with Hollins again on Tuesday.
Hollins led the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals in 2013. Hollins has a 214-201 record and is regarded as a no-nonsense leader who can develop players and get the best out of them.
"If you look at Memphis, they consistently got better every year, all the way to the Western Conference Finals,'' said King of Hollins' tenure with the Grizzlies.
King said that he has been in touch with veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and will keep them abreast of the coaching search. But King doesn't believe the next hire will be the primary reason for any player to return. Pierce is a free agent, as is Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson. Garnett has a year left on his deal but mulled retirement after the 2013 season.
If a player wants to come to Brooklyn, or remain here, it will be because of the organization and all it has to offer, from facilities to support staff to medical care.
"I go back to the fact that we're bigger than one person,'' King said. "The fact that I think we play in the best building in the NBA; we have a rabid fan base that's building.
"You see it. You see our merchandise. We have a brand that's growing. You could be in Thailand or L.A. and you see the Brooklyn Nets, so I think this franchise has come a long way, and it'll continue to be bigger."
King said that former Nets assistants Eric Hughes and Sean Sweeney have joined Kidd in Milwaukee. Assistants John Welsh, Rodney Rogers and Jim Sann will be given the opportunity to interview with the new coach.
Welsh, Rogers and Sann will oversee the Nets' summer league team in Orlando. The Nets play the first of five games in seven days on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers.
The Nets' three second-round draft choices – guards Markel Brown and Xavier Thames, along with forward Cory Jefferson – will get their first chance to impress the organization; not any one coach or executive, but the franchise as a whole.
"I always feel like a team is not the coach or the players or the ownership, it's the fans,'' King said. "They are what the team is about. They're the ones that support. They're the ones that pay for tickets."