Billy King has faced a ton of flak for obtaining Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a 2013 trade. The former Nets GM says Kevin Durant was his focus.
The landscape of the NBA was completely different 8 years ago from what it is today. Back then, the Brooklyn Nets were a team on the come-up that didn’t yet have serious talent.
The likes of Shaun Livingston, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson made the Nets a team with an unknown ceiling. They traded the rest of their squad plus a bazillion unprotected picks to Danny Ainge’s Celtics.
In exchange, they received a Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry who were far from mint condition. The trio had their moments on Brooklyn, but it was clear to onlookers that they wouldn’t be title contenders.
This was comprehensively proved in the playoffs when LeBron led his Heat to a 4-1 rout of their team. The Nets’ superteam experiment lasted all of 1 year as Pierce demanded a trade to a better playoff team.
Billy King says his main focus in trading for Garnett and Pierce was Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant became a real free agent for the first time in his career back in the summer of 2014. This meant that there were tons of franchises in the race for his signature as the 4-time scoring champ reached the age of 26.
Billy King, who’s also previously been GM for the Philadelphia 76ers, was no slouch in that race. His big moves were all made with this grand vision of acquiring Durant and taking the Nets over the hump:
“The focus was Durant. It wasn’t LeBron, it was: Do EVERYTHING we can to put ourselves in position to get Durant…I was in a position where he saw me—and knew. You just make sure that, if you do everything right, they take notice.”
So the Nets, under GM Sean Marks, relied on a roster of burnouts + castaways in 20 + 28-win seasons. 42 wins in ’19. Kyrie signs. KD hurt in ’19-20. Plague + protest follow. The Beard arrives in ’21. And here we are tonight, with a Big 3 on the cusp of a dynasty for real? (5/6)
— Matt Sullivan (@sullduggery) May 23, 2021
Durant did indeed become a Finals MVP and a true superstar, but not with the Brooklyn Nets. At least, you know, not right then.