On draft night of the 2013 NBA Draft, Billy King and the Brooklyn Nets executed a trade that would go down as one of the worst ever.
The deal will live in infamy. No one in the organization thought that the aftermath would be as terrible as it is now. Once the trade was finalized, the Nets received Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, among others, in exchange for Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace and four picks: 2014, 2016, 2018 and the right to swap in 2017.
According to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy, the original deal wasn’t as grand. At first, it was supposed to be Pierce for Humphries, Brooks and one first-rounder. Once the Nets wanted to add Garnett, that’s when the deal started to roll downhill even faster. Both Pierce and Garnett were on the decline, and the front office compromised the long-term future of the team to have some immediate success.
Boston picked third in 2016, and now the Philadelphia 76ers will be picking first overall this year after trading the Celtics for their pick. Next year, Boston is expected to have another high lottery selection.
The present is nothing like the team envisioned:
“The arrogance in the room was that we were going to roll, we were going to win these next couple of years,” a former Nets staffer told Bondy. “Maybe not the championship, but we were going to win the next couple of years and have sustainable success. We were going to keep signing free agents. We were always going to draft between 20 and 30. So if we’re going to swap with the Celtics, who gives a f—? That definitely was the thought.”
Brooklyn’s 2013-14 season was a mild success. They finished with a 44-38 record under Jason Kidd and beat the Toronto Raptors in seven games in the first round. Their year ended just five games later at the hands of LeBron James and the Miami Heat, but things were looking up. The following year, Lionel Hollins replaced Kidd as the head coach, and he led the team to a 38-44 record before getting bounced by the Atlanta Hawks in six games.
Since then, the Nets have combined to win 41 games in two seasons. King was ousted in 2016. Sean Marks, who previously worked with the San Antonio Spurs, was his replacement.
“So we needed everything to align right. And then things went wrong, and the plan wasn’t seen through,” said Bobby Marks, a former assistant to the GM.
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Brooklyn’s rebuild is much more arduous than it has to be because they won’t be returning to the lottery without giving something up, but the current regime isn’t worried about that. Marks has made a couple of nice moves to get the Nets back on track. Last summer, he traded Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers for the 20th pick, and that turned into Caris LeVert. He then dealt Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough to the Washington Wizards, and that landed them another pick.
Marks and the Nets pick three times in 2017’s draft: 22, 27 and 57. It’s not where they should be, but it’s better than nothing. This year’s pool is so talented from top to bottom, and Brooklyn is going to walk away with at least one solid prospect. Moreover, Marks is fully embracing the rebuild and is shying away from making the home run deal.
The Nets counter minimal assets with a boatload of cap room. While it’ll be hard for them to lure marquee guys because they’re not contenders, Marks has shown that he’s not afraid to throw offer sheets and young guys with potential.
In a league that’s dominated by two superteams, building for the future is paramount.
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