Making the playoffs all but mathematically went up in smoke months ago, and now any hope of Conley signing with the Nets this summer all but went up in flames, too.
Before Wednesday’s win at Barclays Center, Conley told reporters that coach Lionel Hollins would have been a “big reason” to consider signing with Brooklyn.
But Hollins was fired and GM Billy King was re-assigned over a month ago. It seems his departure is yet another squandered asset by the Nets, as colleague Chris Sheridan previously examined.
In spite of Conley’s comments and the lack of draft picks and tradable assets the Nets have, owner Mikhail Prokhorov is determined to find a successor capable of cleaning up King’s mess. It’s quite a job.
“I think I want us to have a much firmer blueprint,” Prokhorov has said. “What kind of players we’re looking for and why, in line with the strategic guidelines developed with the new coach and GM. I think we need to have a sense of identity and a style of play. Are we building a team around a franchise player, or are we balancing with younger athletes without a superstar system or about 3-point shooting, defense or speed?”
Whoever gets the job is going to need more than Windex and paper towels. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the next potential GM in Brooklyn:
Bryan Colangelo: One of the strongest candidates for the job on paper, Colangelo is a two-time former Executive of the Year, winning with the Phoenix Suns in 2005 and the Toronto Raptors in 2007. In Phoenix, Colangelo drafted Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. It should be noted, however, that he traded Nash and also traded draft pick Luol Deng.
In Toronto, Colangelo built an All-Star backcourt, acquiring point guard Kyle Lowry for Gary Forbes and a first-round pick (Steven Adams) and drafting DeMar DeRozan ninth overall in 2009. However, Colangelo also has two major blemishes on his Raptors resume: He drafted Andrea Bargnani No. 1 overall in 2006 and signed Landry Fields to a three-year, $20 million contract in free agency.
Prokhorov may prefer a new GM with an eye toward overseas talent. Colangelo drafted Jonas Valanciunas fifth overall in 2011, signed international free agents Linas Kleiza, Jorge Garbajosa and Anthony Parker and also traded for Leandro Barbosa.
Danny Ferry: The architect of Atlanta’s 60-win team last season, Ferry stepped down as GM of the Hawks at the team’s request. According to the team’s press release, Ferry repeated and paraphrased language from a third-party scouting report that contained a culturally insensitive characterization of Luol Deng. While on the job in Atlanta, Ferry signed Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll, traded for Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha and drafted Dennis Schroeder.
While Ferry hit home runs with Millsap and Carroll in free agency during his time in Atlanta, it should also be noted that he once gave Larry Hughes a five-year, $70 million deal as GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Ferry and the Nets have some interesting ties as well. Ferry and former Nets GM Billy King are good friends dating to their days together at Duke. In addition, when King was hired, Ferry was also interviewed during the process.
Kevin Pritchard: Beginning as an assistant GM with the Portland Trail Blazers, Pritchard played a part in acquiring LaMarcus Aldridge from the Chicago Bulls for Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. In the same draft, the Trail Blazers also acquired Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. Both deals are considered some of the best draft day trades in league history. Once Pritchard moved into the GM role, he drafted second-round steals Omer Asik, Dante Cunningham and Patty Mills.
However, Pritchard will always be remembered for drafting Greg Oden first overall ahead of Kevin Durant in 2007 and trading Zach Randolph to the New York Knicks for Steve Francis and Channing Frye. Most recently in Indiana, Pritchard drafted his latest gem – Myles Turner.
Chris Grant: The former Cavaliers GM’s best move was trading Jamario Moon and Mo Williams to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and an unprotected 2011 first-round pick, which became Kyrie Irving. Grant also used Cleveland’s fourth overall pick in that same draft to select Tristan Thompson. However, Grant whiffed mightily during his tenure in Cleveland by drafting Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters and Sergey Karasev. The selection of Bennett was his death knell.
In addition, Grant traded Andrew Bynum, a 2014 first-round pick, a 2015 second-round pick, a 2016 second-round pick and the right to swap 2015 first-round picks for Deng (yeah, him again), a half-season rental as the Cavaliers failed to make the playoffs.
Arturas Karnisovas: The former Seton Hall Pirate played under former Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo and professionally overseas, where he was named European Player of the Year in 2006 and FIBA EuroStars MVP in 2007. He also was an Olympian for the Lithuanian National Team.
After retiring, he joined the NBA’s Basketball Operations office from 2003-2008. For the next five years, he was an international scout for the Houston Rockets, which included directing the Adidas Eurocamp in 2011 and 2012. The following year, he was named an assistant GM with the Denver Nuggets.
While in rebuilding mode, the Nuggets have found three promising foreign centers: Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne. Swingman Will Barton has become one of the league’s best bargains at $3.5 million this season while in the running for Sixth Man Award and Most Improved Player.
It’s worth noting Karnisovas can speak Russian and is big on analytics. The biggest drawback for him is his inexperience as the top dog.
He began as an intern and moved up to executive VP of basketball operations with the Rockets.
Rosas does have previous experience as a GM, but only for three months. He parted ways with the Dallas Mavericks because he wanted greater control over their basketball operations. “The decision was made solely by me as I firmly believe this change is in my best interest,” he said in a statement.
Marks began in basketball operations for Spurs in 2012 as GM of their D-League team, the Austin Toros. A year later, Marks became an assistant coach before getting a promotion to assistant GM in 2014.
Would Brooklyn choose Marks over some of the bigger and more established names in the running? It is not as far-fetched as it might seem. The league’s front offices are filled with executives who earned their stripes working under R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich in the NBA’s most respected organization.
Unless Zanin can somehow pull a trade deadline heist in the next week similar to when King stole Thaddeus Young from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett, his chances of landing the job appear to be slim.