On Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics won the NBA Draft Lottery, scoring the No. 1 overall pick despite being in the Eastern Conference Finals. They have Billy King to thank.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 17, 2017
King, the general manager of the Nets from July 14, 2010 to January 10, 2016, was tasked with turning the franchise into a contender as it made its highly publicized move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. He did so with a series of big trades, in which he mortgaged the team’s future for big name players.
While the core he built through these trades, including Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, made for a decent team for the first few years in Brooklyn, the trades have wound up burying the franchise for years, as those players aged and quickly fell from All-Star status.
The picks that King traded away have turned into some also-rans, a bunch of useful players, and a pair of All-NBA superstars. And with Boston holding the No. 1 pick this year, and potentially again next season, it could get even worse for King’s legacy.
Here is every player selected with picks that Billy King traded away as Nets general manager.
December 15, 2010:
Trade: Joe Smith to Lakers, Terrance Williams to Rockets, two 2nd round picks to Lakers for Sasha Vujacic, 2011 first round pick, 2012 first round pick.
Picks: 2011 NBA Draft, No. 41 overall: G Darius Morris
132 games, 17 starts (2011-2015): 3.3 points, 1.4 assists per game in 11.1 minutes.
2012 NBA Draft, No. 60 overall: C Robert Sacre
189 games, 35 starts (2012-2016): 4.2 points, 3.1 rebounds per game in 14.5 minutes.
Takeaway: King’s first trade with the Nets wound up being mostly a non-factor in terms of the players involved. Morris and Sacre were both role players for a few years, while the Nets wound up taking JaJuan Johnson with its first rounder in 2011, and trading him for MarShon Brooks, who flashed scoring ability as a rookie but fizzled out of the league by 2014.
February 23, 2011:
Trade: 2012 second round pick, Troy Murphy to Warriors for Dan Gadzuric, Brandon Wright.
Pick: 2012 NBA Draft, No. 35 overall: F Draymond Green
397 games, 249 starts (2012-2017): 9.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals per game in 26.8 minutes. Two-time All-Star, two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team
Takeaway: This trade took place on the same day as the Deron Williams trade, and it isn’t as flashy as the famous Celtics fleecing, but it is right up there in terms of bad deals. Obviously, there is no guarantee that Green would have been picked by the Nets, or that he would’ve flourished in Brooklyn, but Dan Gadzuric and Brandon Wright could have been the young forward who has turned into one of the NBA’s best defensive players and most unique talents.
February 23, 2011:
Trade: 2011 first round pick, 2013 conditional first round pick, Derrick Favors, Devin Harris to Jazz for Deron Williams.
Picks: 2011 NBA Draft, No. 3 overall: C Enes Kanter
445 games, 114 starts (2011-2017): 11.3 points, 6.7 rebounds per game in 21.3 minutes.
2013 NBA Draft, No. 18 overall: C Gorgui Dieng
297 games, 185 starts (2013-2017): 8.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game in 26.5 minutes.
Takeaway: Deron Williams was a good, occasionally great player for the Nets, but never managed to be the player he was with the Jazz. The two picks New Jersey, now Brooklyn, gave up to get him are now rock solid NBA centers. More importantly, this trade was the impetus for some even worse ones down the road. Without Williams, the Nets never make the Celtics trade.
June 24, 2011:
Trade: 2013 second round pick to Timberwolves for draft rights for Bojan Bogdanovic.
Pick: 2013 NBA Draft, No. 52 overall: G Lorenzo Brown
63 games, 7 starts (2013-2016): 3.3 points, 2.3 assists per game in 13.2 minutes.
Takeaway: Bogdanovic turned into a nice NBA scorer for the Nets. Brown is out of the league. This was a good deal for King.
December 22, 2011:
Trade: 2015 second round pick to Jazz for Mehmet Okur.
Pick: 2015 NBA Draft, No. 41 overall: G Pat Connaughton
34 games (2015-2016): 1.3 points per game in 1.3 minutes.
Takeaway: Connaughton was immediately traded along with Mason Plumlee to Portland for the rights to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Steve Blake. Connaughton didn’t turn into much, and while Plumlee was a nice piece, RHJ is a very promising young wing defender. Probably one of the better draft pick trades that King had as Nets GM.
March 12, 2012:
Trade: 2012 first round pick, Mehmet Okur, and Shawne Williams to Trail Blazers for Gerald Wallace.
Pick: 2012 NBA Draft, No. 6 overall: G Damian Lillard
396 games, 396 starts (2012-2017): 22.4 points, 6.2 assists, 4 rebounds per game in 36.4 minutes. Two-time NBA All-Star, 2013 Rookie of the Year. All-NBA Second Team (2016). All-NBA Third Team (2014).
Takeaway: In order to give Williams another big-name player, and entice him to stay with the Nets long-term, King traded away a conditional first-round pick for Gerald Wallace. That wound up being the sixth overall pick, which turned into Damian Lillard, one of the best young guards in the NBA. This is the second All-Star to be taken with a pick traded away by Billy King.
July 11, 2012:
Trade: 2016 second round pick swap to Clippers for Reggie Evans.
Pick: 2016 NBA Draft, No. 33 overall: C Cheick Diallo
17 games (2016-2017): 5.1 points, 4.3 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game.
Takeaway: Evans was a nice role player for the Nets during his time in Brooklyn, but Diallo is the type of second round pick that the Nets could use right now. He didn’t play a ton for the Pelicans, but in 17 games, he showed some strong flashes, averaging 11 points and 9.8 rebounds in his last four games.
July 11, 2012:
Trade: 2013 first round pick, 2014 and 2015 first round pick swaps, 2017 second round pick, Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams for Joe Johnson.
Picks: 2013 NBA Draft, No. 18 overall: G Shane Larkin
202 games, 39 starts (2013-2016): 5.8 points, 3.2 assists in 20.3 minutes per game.
2015 NBA Draft, No. 15 overall: F Kelly Oubre Jr.
142 games, 14 starts (2015-2017): 5.2 points, 2.8 rebounds assists in 16 minutes per game.
Takeaway: The Joe Johnson trade was much maligned because of the money he made, but he was arguably a better Net than Deron Williams, and the draft picks were not as impactful in this deal as the Williams trade. Larkin wound up playing just three years in the NBA, his final season being with the Nets, and while Oubre Jr. looks like he might wind up being a strong role player, he hasn’t hit his stride yet. Still, giving away the two pick swaps, one of which vested, was likely incredibly inessential to getting this deal done for King, as the Hawks desperately wanted out from under Johnson’s deal. Just very bad process overall. We have to wait and see what this year’s second round pick, which will be No. 31 overall, turns into.
July 12, 2013:
Trade: 2014 first round pick, 2016 first round pick, 2017 first round pick swap, 2018 first round pick, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, D.J. White, 2017 second round pick.
Picks: 2014 NBA Draft, No. 17 overall: G James Young
89 games (2014-2017): 2.3 points, 1.1 rebounds per game in 8.4 minutes.
2016 NBA Draft, No. 3 overall: F Jaylen Brown
78 games, 20 starts (2016-17): 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds per game in 17.2 minutes.
Takeaway: The worst is yet to come with this already disastrous trade. Yes: Garnett and Pierce made the Nets interesting and somewhat competitive for a few years. However, the team totally mortgaged its future with a trade that didn’t get it all that close to competing with LeBron James in the East, outside of a few fun regular season wins. Young hasn’t flourished in the NBA, but Brown looks like he could become a very good wing for years to come. Now, Boston has the first overall pick, which is likely to be guard Markelle Fultz, and it gets Brooklyn’s first pick again next year. The Nets will likely be one of the worst teams in the NBA once again. This is an unmitigated disaster for the Nets.
This was the final trade by Billy King, in which a pick he has traded away has vested. Nets fans have to be extremely happy about that, even if the road back to decent basketball continues to be a long one.
2017 second round pick (to Atlanta)
2018 first round pick (to Boston)
2018 second round pick swap (with Charlotte)
2018 second round pick swap (with Philadelphia)
2019 second round pick (to Charlotte)
2019 second round pick swap (with Philadelphia)
2020 second round pick (to Philadelphia)