Two of King's Less Celebrated Moves Are Paying Off

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins

February 10, 2014

BROOKLYN The job of GM of a pro sports franchise in this market is not for the faint of heart.

They operate by a different set of rules than the GMs in every other city and town. They aren’t permitted the luxury of a five-year plan. Five days without a crisis is a paid vacation.

Look, I’m born and raised Brooklyn. I got it: If you can make it here... Success in the metropolitan area is unlike success anywhere else.

But that success must happen in a New York flash drive.

Often that leads to GMs making shockingly poor decisions. It also prevents GMs from drafting and developing their own players.

I’ve spoken to countless fans (many of them Mets fans) that say they’d gladly support a young team comprised of players drafted and developed by the organization.

Nets GM Billy King has proven he has a New Yorker’s wiring. The trade he made to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry for three No.1 draft choices and some spare parts, was bodacious.

But lost in that intrepid deal is some of the other moves King made that are paying dividends no one could have foreseen.

Mason Plumlee, the player King took with the 20th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, turned in his most impressive performance to date in the Nets 93-81 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday night in Barclays Center.

Plumlee had a career-high 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots. We asked Nets fans on Twitter to suggest a nickname for Plumlee and got some terrific responses.

Zac Cullen suggested Dunklee, since six of Plumlee’s field goals were dunks. Dylan M offered Plumdog Millionaire. And Malcolm Herbert came up with Plumber because Mason is flushing everything.

There are many teams in the NBA that have been built through smart draft picks, savvy free agent signings and beneficial trades. Plumlee is looking like one of those smart picks.

He needs to work on his offensive skill set but his intelligence, energy and willingness to be coached have not gone unnoticed. Plumlee already has usurped Reggie Evans in the rotation.

“I think I’ve just done the same thing I’ve been doing,’’ said Plumlee. “They just didn’t guard the rim as well. At home, getting the dunk is big. You get the crowd into it. You can get the energy. On the road, it’s two points.”

And the signing of Shaun Livingston has proven to be nothing short of vital to the team’s success. When Deron Williams missed significant playing time after repeatedly spraining his left ankle, Livingston stepped up.

When center Brook Lopez was lost for the season after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, coach Jason Kidd was able to go to a small-ball lineup because Livingston’s play allowed Williams to slide to more of a combo guard.

No Nets fans would have thought going into the season that a rookie taken with the 20th pick and the last player signed would turn out to be major contributors. Maybe being a GM in this market isn’t that bad after all.

Nets Central

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