A Salute to Billy King
He may or may not have been the worst GM in the NBA but Billy King certainly had the best eyeglasses of anybody running an NBA franchise. Unfortunately for Sixer fans, the glasses didn't help out King's eye for talent as he consistently made bad choices which he then exacerbated by trying to fix. But Celtics fans everywhere should give thanks to Billy King and all he has done for the Celtics.
I'll never forget Billy King's first move after he was promoted to GM (well, second. His first move was not picking up Brian Shaw's option). I can remember sitting in front of the television, watching the person I thought was the #2 player in the draft fall. Unfortunately, the Sixers were up and I was resigned to the fact that they were going to snatch up the falling future All-Star. But then came the announcement, "With the 8th pick in the NBA draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select... Larry Hughes." The rest will be up in the rafters as Paul Pierce slid two more spots and into the Celtics' laps (and Dirk Nowitzki landed in Dallas).
The failure of the Flight Brothers pretty much set the tone for most of Billy King's tenure. King made a terrible pick and then made matters worse by trading Hughes along with Bruce Bowen and Billy Owens for Toni Kukoc. Even when he made a good move (trading Mirsad Turkcan for a first round draft pick), he usually ended up cancelling out (trading that first round draft pick which turned out to be Quentin Richardson for Jumaine Jones). King was also fond of the Isiah Thomas trademark of trading for big names even if they don't fit your squad (Tim Thomas, Chris Webber, Toni Kukoc).
Not that everything was terrible. King had a nice run in the early 2000's. He sold his soul to Larry Brown, dealt Kukoc and Ratliff for Mutombo which helped get the Sixers to the NBA Finals. The Sixers struggled the next season (barely playing over .500 and losing to the C's in the first round of the playoffs) so Billy decided to do what he did worst and remake the squad.
Allen Iverson's teams fared better when he was surrounded by role players and defensive-minded players. So what did Billy do? He dumped Dikembe Mutombo for Keith Van Horn and traded for Kenny Thomas. The overhaul didn't work and soon after Larry Brown jumped ship. Perhaps hoping to convince people that his solid moves were better than most realized, King then overpaid his current squad, lavishing riches upon Eric Snow, Sam Dalembert, and Kyle Korver. One can only assume that the owners of the Sixers saw Louis Williams's emergence and feared that King was about to offer him a max contract. Apparently eschewing defense completely, he hired World B. Free to be his director of player development.
And then came the moment. Billy King turned down all Eastern Conference suitors and dealt Allen Iverson for Andre Miller and two first round picks. One of the players he eventually got from those picks is already gone (Derrick Byars was waived before the season started). Less than a year later, the Celtics, reeling after not being able to trade the house for Iverson, acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. So Billy King went out just like he came in; turning a blind eye to the obvious and making a gut choice that ended up helping the Boston Celtics.
God Bless You Billy King. And don't worry, we'll put in a good word with James Dolan for you.