Analysis, News

With Frank Zanin, Have the Nets Made a Change at GM?

Unlike Tony Brown, Frank Zanin has a title without the word interim attached to it. But just like Tony Brown, Frank Zanin is stuck basically in the same predicament with the same responsibilities. His charge is to hold down the fort, aka the Brooklyn Nets, until Mikhail Prokhorov figures out what to do about filling the two most important positions under him, head coach and GM.

Mikhail Prokhorov said at the Monday press conference that Frank Zanin is now in charge of basketball operations, which is a peculiar situation with the trade deadline approaching soon. Questions came up about how the Nets would deal with trade calls going forward. Prokhorov stated that Zanin is the guy to field the calls but he will be available for consultation.

“We have assistant GM Frank Zanin and all the teams know who to call, and if he needs me, I will just contact with him every day. So, no problem.”

All teams know who to call? What did Prokhorov do? Send a league-wide email? Let’s be clear here, there is a problem on many accounts.

There’s not much information on Zanin on the team website. Why would there be? He’s the assistant GM! Bottom line, Zanin is a rubber-stamp GM who is a Band-Aid until the Nets figure out how to stop the hemorrhaging from all the mistakes that Billy King has made.

Speaking of Billy King, if Zanin is the guy running the team, reassigning (aka fired, axed, the old heave ho, strike three out!) Billy King was a complete waste of time. Frank Zanin is completely loyal to Billy King. How loyal? About as loyal as Paul Westphal was to Lionel Hollins walking out the door behind him. Frank Zanin basically owes 35 percent of his check to Billy King. King was his boss in Brooklyn AND Philadelphia. Which means Zanin helped Billy King destroy two franchises and their salary caps.

Zanin was groomed and brought through the ranks in Philadelphia under Billy King’s watch from video intern to the team’s pro personnel scout from 1999 to 2007. He left the team when King was fired.

When Billy King showed up in Brooklyn (SURPRISE!) Frank Zanin appeared as well. He served as the team’s pro personnel scout and director of player procurement (I dare you to find another team with THAT title). Eventually he took over the role from Bobby Marks, the long time assistant GM. The Nets did not re-sign Marks in a “cost-cutting” move that paved the way for Zanin.

What’s the point?

Billy King is basically STILL the Brooklyn Nets’ General Manager. Sure, he was reassigned to an advisory role but look at the facts here…

  1. Billy King, for some reason, is liked by the Russian ownership group.

While Lionel Hollins was mentioned in the Sunday announcement like you would an ex that did you wrong, Billy King was shown a lot of admiration and respect. For some reason not known to anyone outside of God, Mikhail Prokhorov really likes King. As long as his duties are not defined, that means King can have some influence. Speaking of influence…

2. Umm, Billy King gave this man his career, doesn’t that count for something?

It counts for a lot. Zanin has no real experience to do this job. Billy King was a bad GM. But he was a GM. Zanin needs some help and advice. It is common knowledge that Prokhorov has been an absentee owner since he bought the team years ago. He had no problems listening to anything King had to say for almost six years. He even took the blame for the moves that were made in the past. King made the moves but who was by his side?

Frank Zanin.

Zanin gained a lot of power in the organization getting credit for helping re-sign Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, and trading for Joe Johnson, among other deals. Zanin is on just as shaky ground as King is with his career and he knows it. History teaches us that when Billy King gets a check, Frank Zanin gets a check. It doesn’t take a West Chester degree to figure out that he is going to stay real close to Billy King. Throwing him out in the ocean with no boat would not be a good long term business move.

This situation is par for the course when it comes to the Brooklyn Nets. A move is made, they get their name in the paper. The Lionel Hollins firing was legit. Going forward, Billy King will not be at the podium talking to the media about his moves, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t making them.