The Nets’ past and future converged Wednesday on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues where retired forward Albert King reminisced about growing up in Brooklyn and GM Billy King talked about what moving here will mean for the franchise.
But the more immediate future remains very much on the Nets’ minds.
They can’t do anything because of the lockout, but the Nets have plenty of work ahead of them in New Jersey before they get to Brooklyn.
The Barclays Center is set to open for the start of the 2012-13 season and the only way to make sure Deron Williams is there is by getting the players that will keep the All-Star point guard.
Naturally, none of this was said when Billy King and assistant general manager Bobby Marks gave beat writers a tour of the arena construction site. They can’t talk about any players right now.
But almost as much as King talked about how great Brooklyn will be, he discussed the importance of putting together a winner now.
“Wherever we play I’m trying to win this season upcoming,” King said. “There’s no guarantee you’re going to win when you get to Brooklyn so you got to build your team now and win.”
This would be King’s attitude regardless. From the moment he took over the Nets, just over a year ago, he looked for ways to upgrade the roster. He went after Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and wound up with Williams. King, Marks, coach Avery Johnson, the Russian ownership -– all they want is to win.
But it’s even more imperative to build a winner now or when they’re able to make changes because of Williams and because of Brooklyn.
In a perfect world, the Nets will be much more successful during this free agency than last one. It should be different.
The Nets were coming off a 12-win season, had no stars and Brooklyn still didn’t seem to be a reality. The Nets only won 24 games, but they have Williams -– and players want to play with elite point guards -– and Brooklyn is a very real part of the future.
The Nets are hoping that will help them get some of the players they’ve targeted from this group of frontcourt players: Nene, Tyson Chandler, Kris Humphries, Tayshaun Prince and Caron Butler.
Secure a couple of them and Williams is more apt to stay, the Nets are more likely to make the playoffs and Brooklyn will open with even more hoopla than already being planned.
You have to believe the Nets are going to have a blow out when you consider they started talking about moving to Brooklyn in 2004, were supposed to be there in 2008 and now after all the lawsuits and appeals they’re getting closer to opening the Barclays Center.
“I’m just excited it’s Brooklyn, five minutes from where I lived,” Albert King said. “I never thought it would happen –- and it’s my former team.
“This will be the first time an arena like this will be built in a New York City area,” Billy King said. “I equate this probably to the opening of United Center in Chicago for what it did to the downtown area of Chicago or the Staples Center, what it did to that part of L.A. I think this will do the same thing for this area. A lot of people fought it, but once it’s built I think they’ll realize five or six years from now this area will be booming.”
King also believes the Nets will be more attractive to players, too.
“Everybody says they want to play in New York,” he said. “We’re going to be in New York. We got the best owner and we’re going to have the best building. We’ll have all the tools. If a guy doesn’t want to come play here it’s just he doesn’t want to play in the City.”
The most important thing is to make sure that Williams wants to play in this City, and that’s why the real work starts for the Nets when the lockout is lifted.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)