When Mikhail Prokhorov bought the New Jersey Nets he immediately envisioned a five-year plan to make this team a title contender. To make Prokhorov’s vision a reality general manager Billy King has acted swiftly.
During his 10-year tenure (1997-2007) in Philadelphia, King built a team that went to five consecutive playoff appearances (1999-2003) and won an Eastern Conference Championship in 2001. King made two important trades that netted starting power forward Tyrone Hill and starting center Dikembe Mutombo to pair with MVP Allen Iverson during the team’s 2001 NBA Finals appearance.
On February 23, 2011 King capitalized on the diminishing relationship between the Utah Jazz, and superstar point guard Deron Williams. King made the boldest trade of his career trading former All-Star point guard Devin Harris, former 2010 third overall draft pick Derrick Favors, two first-round picks, and cash to the Jazz for Williams. Harris has struggled mightily in Utah, Favors is a backup power forward behind Paul Millsap, and Williams is an unrestricted free agent after the season with no guarantee he’ll make the move to Brooklyn with the Nets.
After acquiring Williams, King has put role players around Williams, as he once did with Iverson, in the hopes of building another contender. King traded the draft rights to JaJuan Johnson and a 2014 second-round pick to the Boston Celtics for the draft rights to starting shooting guard MarShon Brooks, who was selected to the Rising Stars Challenge for All-Star Weekend. King then re-signed power forward Kris Humphries to a one-year deal that provides nightly double-doubles for this season and cap space flexibility for the future. Finally, King traded for Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur after Brook Lopez was injured as a quick fix replacement in the final year of his deal.
Now King is working on another bold move that could change the landscape of the Eastern Conference and give the Nets a “superhero” for years to come in Brooklyn. King is in discussions with the Orlando Magic and other teams to put Dwight Howard in a Nets uniform. If King can trade some of the role players he’s assembled around Williams he’ll form a dynamic duo that would be this generation’s newest Stockton-to-Malone combination.
The Timberwolves have improved thanks to the pairing of international sensation Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. The Clippers have become a legitimate title contender thanks to the arrival of Chris Paul to pair with human highlight reel Blake Griffin in “lob city.” The Knicks have been rejuvenated by the revelation of Jeremy Lin to work the pick-and-roll with Amare Stoudemire, who thrived in Phoenix thanks to MVP point guard Steve Nash.
King is trying to continue the trend of dynamic pick-and-roll duos with the Nets and form possibly the best of the tandems in Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. King’s career, the future of Brooklyn, and the futures of Deron Williams and Dwight Howard all rest on potentially the most important trade discussions of the season.
If King can land Dwight Howard Prokhorov’s proclamation will have added validity and Brooklyn will eagerly anticipate the arrival of their first “superheroes” since the beloved Dodgers left town.
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