While Presti was a front office executive in San Antonio, the Spurs were so high on the 19-year-old Krstic during the 2002 draft that they reportedly guaranteed they’d select him with the 26th pick. The Nets plucked him at 24.
"I think he’s going to bring a number of different things to our team,” Presti said. "First and foremost an ability to stretch the floor, and he adds another player to our roster with a high basketball IQ that understands how to play the game and play at a high level. Clearly we’re thrilled to have him.”
Four years ago, Nets coach Lawrence Frank said he would have been happy just to get anything out of his newest rookie. Then teammate Vince Carter said he didn’t even know who Krstic was before being traded from Toronto to the Nets.
But Krstic quickly turned heads.
He averaged 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds in 34 minutes a game in the final month of his rookie season. Krstic then averaged 18.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 56.3 percent shooting in four games against Shaquille O’Neal and the eventual champion Miami Heat in the first round of the 2005 playoffs.
Krstic seemingly was headed for All-Star status in 2006-07 before a knee injury limited him to 26 games. He was averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 32.6 minutes before tearing his ACL in December 2006.
"You would hope that he’s going to be able to come in and help our team get over the hump in some of these games,” said Desmond Mason. "But you don’t want to put too much pressure on the guy like he’s supposed to come in and save the whole entire season.”