Former Nets general manager Billy King is primarily known these days as the man who pulled the trigger on the infamous trade that resulted in the Celtics owning Brooklyn’s first-round picks for several years, allowing Boston to secure franchise cornerstones like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. In a conversation with Chris Mannix of SI.com, King was willing to revisit that deal, but said he hopes it’s not the only thing he’s remembered for.
“I don’t want that to define my overall basketball career,” King said of the deal that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. “A lot of good things happened during my time in the NBA. Things like [the trade] overshadow everything else. I know I have a lot more to give. People call to ask about players I have had on my teams. It does motivate me [to get back], not that I want to erase what happened in Brooklyn, but I want to help.”
As Mannix relays, King doesn’t expect to return to a GM role and get another chance to run a franchise. However, he believes he “could help just giving advice,” given his experience with managing personalities, managing a locker room, and managing a coaching staff. He’s not sure if he’ll get that shot from an NBA team.
“I don’t know,” King told Mannix. “I would hope to believe yes, but you never know. People get back in. I know my passion is there, the work ethic is there, the knowledge is there. … Coaches get hired after unbelievably bad runs with a team, they bounce back and do a great job. Mike D’Antoni coached in Denver, was fired, went to Phoenix and was terrific. I think from a coaching standpoint, [owners] look at track record. They don’t look at GM’s draft record, what did the team do that they helped build.”
King, who took over as the Nets’ general manager after a 12-70 season in 2010, helped build a roster that made three straight playoff appearances from 2013 to 2015, earning a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2014. However, the deal with Boston left the franchise bereft of assets — Brooklyn hasn’t been back to the postseason or won more than 28 games in a season since 2015.
For more comments from King on his time in Philadelphia, his plans for the future, and – of course – what he’d do differently if he could revisit those negotiations with the Celtics, be sure to check out Mannix’s full article.