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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Billy King: Changes were needed

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King said it was his decision to re-assign assistant coach Lawrence Frank to doing daily reports earlier this season after coach Jason Kidd requested Frank be removed from the bench.

The Nets were 5-12 when, according to sources close to the process, Kidd told his bosses that he thought it would be best for Frank to be moved off the coaching staff because of a growing difference of philosophies between the two. In an interview Thursday with NBA TV, King said it was then up to him to find a new role for Frank after Nets management agreed with Kidd's recommendation. 

"[Frank] does his report -- I got it this morning -- and he's helping from afar," King said. "But I believe in Jason and so to give him the ability to be successful, we had to make that decision."

Jason Kidd
Nets management believed Jason Kidd needed freedom to succeed -- and the move worked.

The Nets started 10-21, and it appeared as though Kidd was in over his head following "Sodagate" and Frank's reassignment. But King stuck with Kidd, and eventually Brooklyn turned its season around behind a smallball identity predicated on forcing turnovers and exploiting mismatches. The Nets finished 34-17 to earn the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"He believed in himself. And that was the biggest thing. When he walked into a room, there was confidence. When he talked to the players, there was confidence," King said. "He went at KG [Kevin Garnett]. KG went back at him. He went at Paul [Pierce]. So he wasn't afraid to challenge guys, and that, to me, showed that he was going to be a good coach.

"You've got a Hall of Famer in KG and Paul -- 19 years and 16 years in the league -- and you challenge them in front of the rest of the team, they all believe, 'Okay, this guy's real.' "

King also discussed his initial decision to hire Kidd, who was just weeks removed from his retirement as a player.

"One thing I knew, I wanted a leader," King said. "Most people look for guys [who can draw] X's and O's. That's great, but if you can't lead, then X's and O's don't work.

"And ownership said, 'What about Jason Kidd?' And I said, 'Nah, he just finished playing. We can't hire him.' They said, 'Will you meet with him?' I said, 'Yeah, I'll meet with him.' So I'd known Jason. I liked him. I did know he was a leader and he'd won everywhere. So we had our first meeting and I walked away from our first meeting and called [ownership] and said, 'He might be the one. We're going to meet again.' I just walked away uplifted."

King reiterated that he called his former coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, before hiring Kidd. Krzyzewski told King not to put Kidd "in a box" and allow "his instincts to take over."

King, under a win-now mandate from owner Mikhail Prokhorov, transformed the Nets from a bottom-feeder into an Eastern Conference contender, trading for Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Garnett and Pierce.

"I like to make trades. It's one thing I love to do," King said. " And having a coach like Jason, he knows what he needs to win now. So I said, 'I look forward to having this offseason with you because now there are guys you're going to want and we can go get, that I know you'll make them successful because you believe in them and they'll believe in you."