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Nets GM Billy King seeks way to move up in first round of NBA Draft

Nets general manager Billy King appears during a

Nets general manager Billy King appears during a news conference at the PNY Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Thursday, May 15, 2014. Credit: Brian Branch Price

Knowing his penchant for pulling off draft day deals, Nets general manger Billy King's cellphone probably will be busy Thursday.

Even if the market for climbing out of the first-round cellar isn't to his liking, King must continue to scour the landscape, gauging the assets it would take to elevate the Nets from the 29th overall selection in Thursday night's NBA Draft at the Barclays Center.

With holes on the roster to fill and no salary cap space heading into free agency next week, leaping higher into the first round would be beneficial.

"There's been a lot of conversations," King said earlier this week. "Do I think we can move up? I don't think so, but you've still got to get in the process and find out. A lot of conversations. The price to move up is high. So, we've been in a lot of discussions with people."

Mason Plumlee reportedly has been dangled as bait, cast with the Nets' first-round selection in hopes of them reeling in a pick just outside the top 15. It's easy to see why the Nets would try to move up.

The second-to-last pick of the first round is typically held by a team that finished the regular season with one of the league's two best records, but the Nets have the Hawks' pick after Atlanta exercised its rights to swap selections as a condition of the 2012 Joe Johnson trade. If the Nets stay put where they are, there's no guarantee they will land someone able to step into coach Lionel Hollins' lineup right away and be a solid contributor.

"I think you hope that they can," said King, who also has a second-round pick at his disposal. "I don't ever want to come in and say, 'Yeah, we are going find a guy that's going to help us.' You've got to get him and play summer league and, really, summer league is not a good projection. It's really when they start practicing with the veterans. So, it's going to be hard to say, 'Yeah, we are going to get a guy that is going to be a rotational player or a starter.'

"I've been in places in Philadelphia where a coach said, 'If you draft this guy, he'll never play a minute for you.' And then he ended up starting. So you draft him and let the process unfold after that."

In naming the traits he's searching for in the Nets' next crop of draftees, King didn't have skill set or versatility at the top of his list.

"One, we are going to start with character," he said. "We want guys with very high character because if they have that, they will be willing to work and be willing to fit in as part of a team. We are going to look for guys we see that [fit] for Lionel, the way he wants to coach, the way we want play. Tough-minded."

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