By Steve Lichtenstein
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It’s considered bad form to revel in the misfortune of others who have lost their jobs, so please forgive any giddiness you might perceive from the following:
The King has left the Nets’ building!
Well, technically Billy King has been “reassigned” from his general manager’s duties, according to the statement released by the Nets on Sunday. During his mostly evasive press conference at Barclays Center on Monday, owner Mikhail Prokhorov shot down a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski that stated that King will be advising ownership in the organization’s search for his successor, but Prohkorov did say that “his position for the time being is under discussion.”
“(King) can send me any of his ideas as a friend,” Prokhorov said. “But for the time being it’s not his job.”
Lionel Hollins will also need replacing, as the Nets simultaneously announced Sunday that they had “parted ways” with the crusty 62-year-old coach who led the club to a cumulative 48-71 record that included a first-round playoff loss last season.
Assistant Tony Brown will take over as interim coach starting with Monday’s home tilt versus San Antonio. Frank Zanin, the assistant GM, will temporarily field phone calls from other teams and perform other personnel chores.
The moves were begging to be made, with the franchise spiraling toward the same irrelevancy that existed when Prokhorov purchased the then-New Jersey Nets back in 2010.
Not only does Brooklyn currently sport the third-worst mark in the league at 10-27, it’s future is just as bleak after King triple-mortgaged it with his summer 2013 blockbuster trade with Boston for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. The Nets still owe the Celtics their 2016 and 2018 first round draft picks plus the right to swap slots in the 2017 draft.
There was little Hollins could do with a roster devoid of defenders and 3-point shooters. However, his firing was far from unexpected given the mostly non-competitive efforts his club has put forth in recent outings.
Prokhorov admitted that he started thinking about blowing up his management team a month and a half ago. With Brooklyn in freefall following the injuries to rookie wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and starting point guard Jarrett Jack, Prokhorov finally pulled the trigger on Sunday.
“When we face the problem that we need new leadership, I think it’s very fair to the fans and to the team, it’s better to start building than (wait for after the season.),” Prokhorov said.
Of course, Prokhorov is still under the delusion that an NBA championship is right around the corner once he reels in his desired targets.
The most mentioned of those names among various media platforms — University of Kentucky coach John Calipari — is another pipe dream.
Even if the reports are true that it would take a 10-year, $120 million Godfather offer to lure Calipari to Brooklyn (which Calipari vehemently denied via Twitter), Prokhorov, though he refused to rule out any specific individuals from consideration other than comrade Andray Valutin, stated that he wants to keep the GM and head coach jobs separate.
Which is more good news. The last thing Nets fans want now is another PR hire akin to the Jason Kidd debacle two years ago.
That’s the type of short-term thinking that got the Nets into their current predicament.
Who knows whether or not Prokhorov has learned his lesson? All that he would admit to is that the New York market can be difficult for players, coaches, management and the owner.
“I take full responsibility for the state of the team and I think Billy King did his best,” Prokhorov said. “I don’t like to analyze mistakes in public. I criticize myself inside of me.
“Trust me, I have tortured myself much more than you (the media) have.”
Try being a Nets fan for over 40 years.
For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1