Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Special to ZAGSBLOGEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Like all NBA executives, Nets GM Billy King is a busy man these days.
The NBA Draft Lottery is just a week away, the NBA Draft is just over five weeks away, NBA free agency will open just three days after the draft and there is the small matter of having his NBA Summer League roster set in the days after the draft.
King’s first order of business is the draft lottery next week. After that, he may actually find his workload considerably lighter. The Portland Trail Blazers own the Nets’ 2012 first round pick thanks to the Gerald Wallace trade.
However, the pick is top-3 protected, which means if the Nets come out of the draft lottery with any of the first three picks, they keep it. If the pick turns out to be outside the top 3, it goes to Portland. According to statistics provided by the NBA, the Nets have a 7.5 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, which will be Anthony Davis of Kentucky.
Whichever way next Wednesday’s draft lottery goes for the Nets, who own only the 57th pick in this draft, King knows it is crucial on several levels.
“It’s a big day,” he said Wednesday. “It’s a chance we’ll get one of the top three picks or we won’t. What the lottery does more or less is it gives you certainty of what the draft order is. Then, you can start making phone calls and you know who has what picks. Utah may have Golden State’s pick or Golden State may have it. We may have our pick or Portland may have it. You find out who has multiple picks.
“The lottery, I always look at it as the day that starts the races of the true offseason in terms of player movement and trades.”
The involvement of King and the Nets and what they might do in the NBA Draft is secondary to many when you consider what is coming up right behind it. When the NBA free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, the Deron Williams Sweepstakes will commence.
Only two things are certain right now. Williams will opt out of his contract on July 1 and he is King’s top priority beginning July 1. Amidst rabid speculation on what his move will be this summer, Williams, unprovoked, approached the assembled media on Tuesday at free agent mini-camp and tried to set the record straight.
“I want to reiterate, I don’t know what I’m doing next year,” Williams said. “Still. Nobody does but me. Not even my mom, my brother, my uncle, my cousin. I haven’t talked to anybody about where I’m going next year.”
Add in a fresh batch of Dwight Howard rumors, many of which pinpoint Brooklyn as a possible trade destination after a move to New Jersey was forever rumored this past season, and this offseason is of vital importance for King as the team gets set to cross the Hudson River for good.
As expected, the new Howard rumors weren’t something King was too high on when the topic was brought up on Wednesday.
“I don’t think we’ve been involved in them, but you guys have been writing it,” King said. “There’s nothing that I concern myself about. I just get to read and amuse myself. We have no control over it, people are gonna write what they wanna write.”
As for summer league, King confirmed that All-Rookie second-team selection MarShon Brooks, 2011 second round pick Jordan Williams, Dennis Horner and Jeff Foote will be on the roster. There will obviously be more additions once the dust settles after the NBA Draft and it becomes clear what undrafted free agents become available.
With this much to do on the job and with what just happened to Otis Smith in Orlando, King acknowledged that it does become necessary to step back, take a breath and have some sort of life outside the game.
He told a story of having lunch in Boston with former Duke teammate and ex-Cleveland Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry in the heat of the 2010 playoffs, two years after King was let go by the 76ers as their GM. King and his wife agreed that while Ferry was physically there, his mind was most certainly some place else. King asked his wife if that used to be him during the Philly days.
She said yes.
“I’ve tried to do a better job of disengaging sometimes,” King said. “You guys text me and I get snippy when I respond? Because usually I’m trying to disengage a little bit and try to not be in that constant motion because it can be a grind. The pressures of it and the intensity of it, it can get to you.
“Fortunately, I have two little ones helping me. When you go back to tee-ball last night at 6:30, they don’t care that you’re trying to sign Deron Williams, they just want you to tell them where first base is.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.