Fixed Floating Elements

Training Camp:
Time is Now for All the King's Men

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins

After the flashbulbs stopped popping and the cameras stopped rolling and the questions had been answered, the moment - good and bad - finally hit Nets GM Billy King.

It was July 18th, after King had introduced his newest acquisitions - Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

King was sitting at lunch with the trio, team principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and senior management of what had just become the most intriguing franchise in the NBA.

"I thought to myself, 'O.K., now comes the hard part,'"said King. "The trade was the easy part. Now we have to make it work."

The work of making it work began this week when the Nets opened training camp.

After two days of practice, conditioning and shooting drills, all of King's men look better in person than even on paper.

Jason Kidd's persona seems ideally suited for this veteran roster. KG, Pierce and Terry have gone on record that they came to Brooklyn for one reason, and one reason only - win a title.

"This is the window,"said King. "We’re going to see what we can do with this season, and then we’ll see what next season brings...because we have certain guys under contract in that period. But now that we’re within this season, this is the now."

Now comes the hard part. Now we get to see if he will be King for a season

He has no delusions about this being the season of record, his record. KG is 37, Terry is 36 and Pierce is 35.

The team payroll is just north of $102,000,000. Add in the luxury tax and the Nets have anted up almost $190,000,000 to win - now.

Has King gone crown crazy? Perhaps, but consider this universal truth in pro sports: No price is too high if it results in a championship. None.

He is not oblivious to the expectations. He faced some tough questions during a 15-minute interview session with the media before today's practice.

He answered flatly, "No," when asked if he had rolled the dice in the trade with Boston.

When pressed if he'd regret having given up the three 1st-round draft choices, King held firm.

"We'll have to wait a few years, but I don't think so."

Of course not. Youth doesn't win in this league. Experience wins. Talent wins. Toughness wins. That is what King has assembled in Kings County.

When he was finished answering questions, King couldn't have loosened his tie quicker if he had eight arms. Rivulets of sweat ran from his head.

"I look at when Danny Ainge put together in Boston,"he said. "The pieces fit because KG was an unselfish player. Ray Allen was the shooter that didn’t need a lot of shots. Paul could get his points and I think it’s the same thing here.

"All these guys at this point in their career, they’re more blending in and they’re all about complementing each other."

Perhaps. But Doc Rivers wasn't a rookie coach when he led the Celtics to the 2008 title. Kidd might have the respect of this veteran team, but he's yet to call so much as a timeout.

"I don’t think there’s any right timing for when a guy is going to be a good coach," said King. "I think the key to being a good head coach is being a leader. You have to convince 15 guys to follow you, and not only the 15 players, but you have to convince your coaches to follow and believe in you.
"And I think the best asset Jason Kidd has is leadership ability. Everywhere he has gone, people have followed him and he won."
If the Nets don't win, all the criticism will be on the table: KG, Pierce and Terry were too old. Kidd was too young. But this is King's court.
"We know it’s a process, but this process is not a two-year deal," Terry said that day in July. "Let's get it done this year, and why not?"

Come June, if the Nets are hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy, they probably won't name a street after King. It won't matter. The celebration will take place in King's County.

Nets Central

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