Nets GM Billy King sat down with Ben Couch of brooklynnets.com recently for an interview that encompassed everything from the move to Brooklyn, the current coaching situation, the roster as it stands and what he can do to upgrade it.
King started the interview speaking about the expectations the Nets had and if he thought they lived up to them.
"We all had expectations and I think we exceeded them. I think the fan base was great. I think the building was great and I thought our players played up to it. We won 49 games and had some exciting games in the building but I thought we could have went a little further. That leaves a bit of an anxious taste in my mouth of wanting to get back to work and to get back there because I think we left our fans wanting more and we wanted more."
He went on to gush over the fan base and how the employees of Barclays Center went about their jobs with pride for the building as well as the team. In going over the entire year King seemed to want more and expected a bit more from this new-look group and let it be known that it didn't sit well with him.
"It was a long year. I thought we started great and then we had our lull in December and P.J. (Carlesimo) stepped in and did a good job for us. Then I think we had some injuries down the stretch that affected us but we got homecourt advantage, which was a goal of mine in the playoffs, and then to get 49 wins, I would have liked to have gotten 50. To get in the playoffs and battle back to have a game 7 and then it ended so quickly was probably the bitter pill."
“I didn’t know how quickly the group was going to gel,” King said about his personal expectations. “When you put that many pieces together, that many guys that were so-called ‘their guy’ on their team, you don’t know how it's going to gel. I thought it did quickly ... then it faded. But I think the biggest thing was my vision was for us to have homecourt advantage, to finish in one of the top four spots, which we did. But I thought with that it would help us get to the second round. So that's where the disappointment really came about.”
The Nets relieved Carlesimo from his interim coaching duties right after the season so that led to the the most intriguing part of the interview was when King spoke of what he is looking for in a new coach and what he expects that coach to bring. He harkened back to his college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, and what he stood for and what he taught him.
"We need to create a culture that becomes the identity of the Brooklyn Nets.""Its got to be the vision of the Brooklyn borough. I always go back to Coach K because the mindset he always gave us is that people expect to play Duke, and so give them Duke, he always said,” King said. “So when you go out there, people expect that to be it to be a tough game, a defensive-minded game, they’re going to be physical. So that’s what I'm looking at."
King expanded, “Offensively, you’ve got to be unselfish, the team has to be more important than the individual. If you look at the programs that win, San Antonio, Miami, Chicago, the Lakers over the years, that’s what they’re all about.”
When asked about the recently publicized plan to bring european draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic over for this upcoming season King seemed adamant that it would happen.
“He has an NBA buyout, so the object is for him to exercise it, give him the money, get him to come over and I think he wants to come over,” King said. “(But we) can’t do anything until July 1 (the start of free agency), so we’ll look at that when the time comes.”
The Nets will not have the ability to sign a "big name" free agent although King knows that the success of their first season will bring players to Brooklyn with the larger market.
All Nets fans should feel confident right now that the team is headed in the right direction. The previous five years have been tough for all Nets fans with the team moving and all the talk about the future.
The future finally became the present and amid all the expectations the first year of the Brooklyn Nets brought this brand new team did manage to win 49 games, after winning 22,24,12 in the last three years, and set a new franchise record for road wins with 23.
The inconsistencies that plagued Brooklyn this year should dissipate a bit more next season with the core players having a year under their belt playing together and a only new coaches system to learn.
If King can add the right coach and a few role players on the veterans minimum, bring over Bogdanovic, the Brooklyn Nets will be locked and loaded come October as long as they remember what King said.
“We have to be hungrier to improve, and remember that pain that we felt in Game 7."