By Steve Lichtenstein
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Billy King has supposedly found the fountain of continuity.
According to media reports, the Nets general manager, who routinely turned his roster over in his three seasons in Brooklyn, held court with a group of season-ticket holders on Tuesday. King said, “We’re going to try to keep some of these guys together … continuity, those are the teams that tend to win.”
That would be consistent with all of King’s recent rhetoric regarding re-signing free-agent forward Thaddeus Young and center Brook Lopez (should he decline to exercise his player option and test the market), luxury taxes be damned. King also tendered a qualified offer to reserve forward Mirza Teletovic, who is a restricted free agent.
But it’s a 180 from King’s prior Big Splash philosophy. Let’s not forget that the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce blockbuster was only two years ago.
Despite a record of massive underachievement (one playoff series victory since 2007), now King wants me to believe he is content with the club’s current state of mediocrity.
So why, the closer we get to Thursday’s 2015 NBA Draft, am I anxiously scanning my Twitter news feed awaiting another Woj Bomb? (For those in need of an explanation to that reference, it’s a shout to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who has been remarkably reliable the last few years in breaking big NBA transactions.)
Habit, I guess.
I’m sure King would love to again be the center of attention on draft night, but there’s little he can do on Thursday to make a marked improvement with so few assets in his hand.
Brooklyn owns the 29th pick in the draft, having agreed to swap slots with Atlanta as part of their summer 2012 acquisition of Joe Johnson. ESPN.com has reported that King has been looking to finagle a way up in the first round, even if it costs him reserve center Mason Plumlee.
So much for building around all those “young” players.
In truth, the Nets cupboard of young studs is at best overhyped (like pretty much everything else with this franchise).
Plumlee has shown flashes of promise in his two seasons in Brooklyn after the Nets chose him 22nd overall in the 2013 draft. At various points, Plumlee’s athleticism was a difference-maker.
However, Plumlee’s offensive limitations (i.e. shooting–free throws and basically anything beyond three feet) at other times have made him a liability. He spent much of the past two postseasons chained to the bench. It’s hard to win these days playing 4-on-5.
So it hasn’t been shocking to hear that King doesn’t exactly have a line of lottery-pickers stampeding his office looking to snare Plumlee.
No, the Nets will likely stand pat this time. Oh, they may buy a second-rounder or two like they did last year, hoping they can beat the low odds of developing someone capable of cracking an NBA rotation from those depths.
But the days of the draft-day blockbuster probably have past. King is stuck in the bed he made, having drained all his assets for a bunch of players no one covets.
Deron Williams? Untradable. Johnson? Maybe at the 2016 trade deadline to a team looking for a rental. Everyone else under contract wouldn’t command anything more than a late first-rounder.
No wonder King has converted to preaching continuity. It’s his only play. No matter how itchy his trigger finger gets on Thursday night.
For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Jets and the NHL, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.