When Markelle Fultz gets taken first overall in the NBA Draft in Brooklyn on Thursday, it will be a hard pill to swallow for Nets fans. The pick—which the Boston Celtics currently possess but may end up with the Philadelphia 76ers—was theirs to take. But a series of franchise-destroying decisions led to that pick ending up in the hands of a division rival that made the Eastern Conference Finals last month.
The Celtics may not end up keeping it, but how Brooklyn traded the top pick is still crazy years later.
The New York Daily News took a look back at the trade, which took place on draft night in 2013. Boston sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets for a slew of picks that includes the lottery selection that won the Draft Lottery last month and on Thursday should become Fultz.
The deal was a disaster for the Nets, who were an outright organizational nightmare from the start. The relationship between rookie head coach Jason Kidd and his assistant, ex-Nets coach Lawrence Frank, is enough to fill an entire article. But there are lots of interesting interpersonal issues at play in what killed the Nets. And it starts with absentee owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who definitely gets the label of “interesting” rather than “interested” in his team.
Insiders say few spoke to Prokhorov, and he left much of the ownership duties to an underling: Dmitry Razumov.
“Dmitry’s a star chaser,” said a former Nets executive. “And Prokhorov and his people were obsessed with the flashiest things — the biggest yacht, the most expensive champagne, the biggest stars, the Mercedes.”
Nobody in basketball operations dealt directly with Prokhorov, who promised the world in press conferences and quickly retreated elsewhere. One year, Prokhorov showed up at training camp and proceeded to demonstrate a variety of martial arts exercises using volleyballs, tennis balls, boards and sticks. That same season, he went five-plus months without attending a game.
Derron Williams was in the war room that night, as he famously called himself “assistant to the assistant general manager,” a pretty great Dwight Schrute reference from The Office. But it turns out once KG and Pierce joined the Nets, everything fell apart. Kidd hit the eject button early, and his replacement, Lionel Hollins, wasn’t a great fit with, well, anyone.
Around the All-Star break of Hollins’ first season, Deron Williams called a meeting to discuss his issues with his coach. It ended with Williams so distraught he had to be restrained from attacking Hollins.
Garnett was traded to Minnesota, while Brooklyn’s relationship with Pierce broke down during negotiations for a new contract. He seems pretty happy about how everything worked out, though.
When one franchise gets a fortunate bounce of the lottery balls, there’s almost always another team’s outright failure to blame. While Boston reaps the rewards on Thursday, Brooklyn will be left wondering what could have been.
(Via The New York Daily News)