ORLANDO, Fla. - In a sense, Billy King was as skeptical as everyone else.
Even the Nets general manager had his doubts about whether he could pull off what seemed like the unthinkable: convincing Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to part ways with both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and send them to an Atlantic Division rival.
"Honestly, did I think we could pull something like this off? No," King said Friday after the blockbuster trade consummated on draft night became official. "From the beginning, no. But Danny and I just kept working at it and got to the point where we both were comfortable."
The Nets acquired Garnett, Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White from the Celtics in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and three first-round draft picks scattered from 2014-18, plus the right to swap first round picks in 2017.
They also announced the signing of Andrei Kirilenko, who will back up Pierce. King had initially reeled Pierce in from Ainge before turning his attention to Garnett. Since he had already pried one 30-something off Ainge's hands, King figured why not go for Garnett.
"I asked what about KG?" King said. "And Danny said, 'I don't know,' and we just kept talking. Danny and I kept talking until we got to the point to where he was comfortable with what he was achieving and I was comfortable with what I was achieving and giving up. And after that we had to have the discussion with Kevin about waiving his no-trade [clause].
Jason Kidd chatted on the phone with Garnett, doing his best along with Deron Williams to help convince him to come to the Nets. Near the end of the draft's first round, Garnett agreed. Now, Kidd will be charged with the task of making this all work on the court, not to mention ensuring the Nets have the healthy services of Garnett & Co. when it matters most -- in the postseason. But Kidd seems to have the latter figured out.
"Oh, you just cut the uniform off," he said. "That's all. That's easy. We'll sit down. We've already started working on that. I think being able to say I sat in that seat, and being able to talk to KG, Paul and [Terry] about those situations, hopefully they'll listen and understand the bigger picture. I've always called the regular season dress rehearsal for the real season of trying to win that championship."
"I can share that knowledge, but KG and Paul sometimes can be stubborn because they are warriors, and they want to be out there and help. So sometimes, when they look in that locker, their jersey won't be there."That's because Kidd would rather have them available should they cross playoff paths with the Heat, the very team King thought about as he was assembling this cast.
"Well, they're the defending champs, so they are the team to beat," King said. "So, in looking at it, you try to put a basketball team together that can be competitive, and can be smart, and do the things to try and dethrone the champs . . . So, we tried to build a basketball team that gives us the best chance of getting through the East."