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Former 76ers executive Billy King to replace Thorn
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Mikhail Prokhorov got his King after all.
No! Not LeBron. Another King _ Billy.
The former Philadelphia 76ers general manager and president was hired Wednesday to replace Rod Thorn as the team’s top executive, Prokhorov announced in a release. Contract terms were not immediately available.
“He has all of the qualities we’ve been looking for in a candidate: professionalism, good relations with the league, players and agents, and strong communications skills,” Prokhorov said. “He will be an excellent fit with head coach Avery Johnson. Most importantly, Billy is ambitious. He wants to win. This is what I felt when I met with him and why he will be a strong addition to the Nets organization.”
Prokhorov personally interviewed more than five people for the general manager’s job and met with King again on Tuesday, later telling the media the decision would be made as soon as possible.
The Russian, who was recently spurned in his bid to sign LeBron James in free agency, narrowed his field to King and former Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry by Tuesday and eventually picked King.
In King, he gets someone to handle two jobs with one title, which is what Thorn did in recent months after general manager Kiki Vandeweghe was told by Prokhorov that his services would not be needed anymore.
Thorn is stepping aside as president and general manager on Friday. He has said he simply wants a change of scenery after a decade of running the team, including a final year that featured a franchise worst 12-70 record.
King joins the Nets after spending 10 years with the 76ers, serving as the team’s president from 2003-2007. He joined the franchise in 1997 as vice president of basketball administration. Less than a year later he was promoted to general manager, a position he held until being promoted to team president following the 2002-03 season.
During his tenure, King guided the team to five consecutive playoff appearances (1999-2003), including the 2001 NBA finals.
“I want to thank Mr. Prokhorov and his executive team for the opportunity to oversee a franchise that has such a vibrant owner, an outstanding coach in Avery Johnson, and possesses the combination of young talent, cap space and draft choices that will allow us to build a squad that will be able to contend for an NBA title,” King said in a statement.
King joins a team that still needs a power forward for next season. Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick overall in the draft, is the down-the-road starter at that position, but the soon-to-be 19-year-old may not be ready to start this season.
“Rod Thorn is a legendary figure in the NBA, a man of true character and class,” Prokhorov said. “He has been nothing but committed and supportive during the transition to new ownership, and continues to share his wisdom and provide guidance for the Nets. I wish him all of the wonderful things he deserves. I will always consider him a great friend of the Nets.”
Before joining the 76ers, King served as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers under Larry Brown for four seasons. He joined the professional ranks after spending four seasons as an assistant at Illinois State University under Bob Bender. He also spent one year as a color analyst for ESPN’s basketball coverage of the Ohio Valley Conference.
During his collegiate career, King was an outstanding defensive player on Duke’s nationally ranked teams in the late 1980s. He helped the Blue Devils to a 112-27 record, an average of 28 wins per season as Duke went to the Final Four twice, won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship and two ACC tournament titles.
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