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King: Nets' starters can match anyone in NBA, title is within reach

Nets general manager Billy King speaks to the

Nets general manager Billy King speaks to the media in 2007, when he was GM of the Philadelphia 76ers. (Sept. 28, 2007) Credit: AP

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Billy King is sure his starting quintet ranks among the tops in the league.

In King's eyes, their lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez stacks up extremely well against anyone.

"Those five, I think we can match up with any five on the court," the Nets' GM said at the PNY Center Tuesday in his preseason press conference. "I don’t think there is a position where you’ll say, 'Geez, we didn’t win that position.' If you are going against the Lakers, Kobe is Kobe. But Joe Johnson is a pretty good player, Deron is a pretty good point guard.

"So there may be another position [teams] may be stronger. But I think out of the five, most nights we are going to have the advantage."

King said he was looking to truly assemble a roster featuring players who are all about the team -- particularly on the offensive side -- and he feels he's done just that. With a bevy of scorers, he's confident the Nets will have more than enough firepower to get it done, especially since the opposition won't be able to focus squarely on just one individual.   

"The great thing about it, I don’t think this team is going to rely on just one player to do the offense," King said. "It will make it easier for Deron now because we asked Deron to do something for the last year and a half that wasn’t natural for him -- to shoot the ball 20 times, carry the offensive load. That’s not who he is.

"Now he can just be back to point guard. He can be the Jason Kidd, the Magic Johnson, the guys that get other guys the ball."

The Nets, to King, can win a title. But he knows they're going to have to catch a few breaks if that's going to happen sooner than later. The biggest obstacle will be how long it takes for everyone to get on the proverbial same page. 

"We’ve got a lot of talent, we’ve got a good team and it's, ''How quickly are those pieces going to jell?' " King said. "I think we have a team that’s a playoff team on paper. We have a team that can withstand injuries because we have depth. As I’ve always said, 'Can we win a championship?' Yes, but it takes luck in an NBA season to do that."

In the meantime, at least King won't have those constant trade rumors to fend off, like he had to do the past two seasons.

"It feels like my first year with the Nets because of the fact that each training camp, there was that distraction of Carmelo Anthony or Dwight Howard," King said. "I think that’s the greatest thing for our players and the organization, is that we are going to go to training camp focusing on preparing for opening night , not preparing for guys thinking, ' Am I going to be here on opening night?'

"We’ve got a team now that’s preparing for opening night on national TV and that’s the difference. The distractions of all that are gone now, the trade scenarios. I think there are only three guys on the roster that can't be traded from now until Dec. 15. 

"It is a great relief. It really is, to not have to get questions, 'What about this rumor or that?' It’s kind of nice."

New York Sports