This is a transcript of the question and answer session Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov held with the media this morning:
Q by Sarah Kustok of the YES Network: Mr. Prokhorov, can you first just walk us through your thought process in making this decision?
A: Good morning, first of all. I'm happy to see you here. So, you know my business approach. I try to invite the best people I can find and give them some amount of time to make decisions. I don't interfere in the day-to-day routine, but after seven months of time, I have to look at the reality and make a change if things are not going in the right direction. That's what we have done. It was just very easy. And of course, if you look for the team for the time being, it's clear that we are doing not the best way. So we show some flashes of potential, but we were not consistent.
Q by Brian Lewis of the New York Post: You say obviously you weren't doing in the best way. Could you give us a timeline on when the decision was made and when you started reaching out, I suppose, to other people to gauge interest?
A: I started thinking maybe one month and a half.
Brian Lewis: One month and a half?
Prokhorov: One month and a half.
Q by Andy Vasquez of the Bergen Record: Right now you guys don't have a general manger in place. Who is making basketball decisions in the case someone were to call and offer you a trade?
A: 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.
Q by Alex Raskin of the Wall Street Journal: There have been reports that Billy King would be involved in the search for a new GM. How involved will he be and is that report true?
A: Uh, he can send me any of his ideas as a friend, but for the time being, it's not his job for the time being. And his position for the time being is under discussion.
Q by Mike Mazzeo of ESPN: When you look at the state of the franchise with no picks and the lack of talent, what is the plan going forward to fix things?
A: I can share you what is my strategy views. I think that I want us to have firmer, a much firmer blueprint of what kind of players we're looking for and why in line with strategic balance developed with the new coach and new GM. So, I think we need to have a sense of identity and style of play. Are we building a team around franchise player, or we balancing, in balance with younger athletes without superstar system? Or are we involved with three point shooting, or defense, or speed? Of course we can be anything at the same time so it will be very important with the conversation with the future coach and GM. I want to stress also one very important aspect, and for me it's really great lesson. We are playing with the best market in the world. And of course it is a market which makes great pressure, great, a lot of attention, a very active press. Thank you to all of you. That's why we need players and a coach who can resist with this pressure, who can survive. So, we need not only players who, like, want to play for us, but they can play for us. So for me it's a very important lesson. So also, of course, we need to enhance our developmental capability and now we have a D-League team and we will expand our search for talented people and realize it in our new strategy. That's about all, thank you much.
Q by Bruce Beck of WNBC: Would you consider one man to handle both jobs, be the general manager and coach?
A: Thank you for the question. My perception that there is some kind friendly contradiction between GM and the coach. I prefer to have like both, the general manager and the head coach. This is my view on this.
Q by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press: When you came here, you talk about wanting to contend for a title within five years. When you look back at some of the decisions that Billy King made, were they because he, you know, to try and do that? And if you look back, were they maybe the wrong decisions? Did you need to build slowly in the beginning rather than what you guys tried to do?
A: I take full responsibility for the state of the team and I think Billy King did his best. Just, we need a fresh look for the new. Maybe in our prior approach, we, and we should be able to take the courage to turn down the opportunities which maybe don't fit to our strategies. Maybe it is the second lesson from the last six years.
Q by Howard Beck of Bleacher Report: Just kind of along those same lines: You made it clear from day one when you arrived that you wanted a championship soon. You wanted to own New York. You wanted to make Knicks fans into Nets fans. All of this that created an atmosphere where it seemed like there was a win now, sometimes perhaps at the expense of future planning, draft picks traded away and so forth. Do you regret kind of setting that aggressive agenda from day one? Was that a mistake and do you think that you need to have a more deliberate or gradual approach from here on out?
A: Frankly speaking, I deserve championship now much more than six years ago. And, I think we have been really bold and did our best in order to reach championship. And I still believe with some luck, our results might have been more promising. But I'll do my best to make us a championship team. And if we compare it to now and six years ago, we have state of the art arena in New York. We'll have fascinating training facilities, and we'll open it I think together next month. We'll have a D-League team. So we'll big amount of money under the cap next season. So we have everything the best. And I'm really optimistic and now I'm 100 percent owner of the team and the arena, and I'm very committed to be championship and I'm all in.
Q by Howard Megdal of USA Today: Just to that end, you spoke a year ago about a willingness to listen to offers to purchase the team. I'm wondering what you've learned over that year of listening and how you would characterize your willingness and your thoughts about the value and sale of the team at this point?
A: Just, I have no, any, ideas to sell. So it's just the opposite, I use this opportunity to increase my shares in the arena and in the team. On one hand, because there is NBA wish to have equal stock in arena and the club. On the other hand, they were requirements being faced for a city. And of course, it was a great opportunity for me and my team to increase shares in the team. From time to time, some people, they came to us and they gave us a bid. I think it's not bad to receive bids from the market. I'm just a business man. And if anyone else has a desire to have a bid, he's welcome. But we never have an idea just to sell the team.
Q by unidentified media member: When you came into the league, people think you would solve the last taboo, which would an international GM or international coach. Is it in the cards now, in your search that you look into an international GM or an international coach as well?
A: You mean some rumors about Andrey Vatutin? I have no plans for that. We are just at the beginning of the procedure. We have big list of potential candidate and I will meet personally with all of them. So as soon as we are ready, you will be the first to know as usual.
Q by Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post: You've talked about the lessons you've learned over the six years you've owned the team. A big part of that ownership has been the presence of Dmitri Razamov. He's kind of, around here a lot, involved in a lot of the decision making. Is that something that's going to remain the case going forward or is the potential for that to change?
A: The most important thing we need to change, we maybe new level of leadership here. I mean in the front office and the coaching staff. So once again, I want to repeat that for me, maybe the biggest lesson to win in New York. And it's a little bit, another animal. It's like another emotion. So I live in Moscow, here I feel like home. So we need big vision. This is like, maybe the most important lesson.
Q from Bontemps: Is that leadership from ownership or does that mean from people...
A: I mean the GM and the coach. And of course, the players.
Q from Fred Katz of FOX Sports: Historically, it's a little bit unconventional to make a change of GM or start a process on making a change in GM in the middle of the season specifically. Why now make the decision with Billy as opposed to waiting out til the end of the year when his contract runs up?
A: When we face the problem that we need the new leadership, I think it's very fair to the fans and to the team. As soon as we have our decision, it's better to start early than later. So now, we have very good position. We have the opportunity to meet people, to discuss strategy. We're not in a rush in making any deals. We're not in a rush of finding people, so we have time. That's very important if you think about long term strategy or medium term strategy. So I think it's just the right decision to be absolutely fair with everybody
Q by Devin Kharpertian of the Brooklyn Game: You mention time, but is there a point, uh, do you anticipate hiring a coach or GM before the end of the season or are you looking to do that more in the offseason?
A: We will define the procedure and we'll be very, very disciplined on this.
Q by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN: I was just wondering about the structure of the organization right now. When you are looking for a GM and coach, who will have the biggest influence for you when you're doing this search? Will it be Dmitri? Will it be Sergey? Will it be Brett Yormark? Who will have the biggest influence on you as far as the hiring?
A: I think we have a few people, but we'll sit together. We put some ideas on the list. It's no secret that a lot of people calling now to our office, and some people they expressed their desire to work. So I think we have a long list and we put together for us what is important to this position: Need to fit our strategy. This is very important. So it takes time, that's why really I don't want to be in a hurry.
Q by Mark Herrmann of Newsday: How would you describe the state of the team that you see on the floor right now and how long will it take to get this team back on its feet to where it's a playoff contender?
A: You know, we had our playoffs three times in a row, so sometimes you're faced with a problem for a smaller set. I'm sure for the next season, we'll be, I hope, championship contender.
Q by Dyrol Joyner of PIX 11: There's been speculation that John Calipari is tops on your list. Is this someone that you will look at as far as the next coach and possibly GM?
A: Coach Cal is a great coach, but we won't be discussing today any name because it's the first day of our new approach. So I'm not in a hurry. We put a lot of names on the list, and as soon as we are ready, as soon as a deal is reached, you will be the first to know.
Q by Andy Vasquez of the Bergen Record: Mr. Prokhorov, whoever you hire as the next coach will be the sixth coach you've had in the four seasons in Brooklyn. How can you make sure that this person feels secure in their job?
A: But actually, we let only two coaches go, because PJ Carlesimo was the acting head coach and Jason Kidd, he left by himself. And so, we are just optimistic, but I think for the time being, Brooklyn Nets is the best franchise with the best arena, within a month the best training facility, with the D-League, with big amount of money under the cap, I think it's a great challenge for any GM and for any head coach.
Q by Bruce Beck of WNBC: Mikhail, will you be spending more time here in the US, in Brooklyn? Is it important that you're less of an absentee owner and more of an owner on hand?
A: In the current situation, for sure I will spend much more time here meeting people, looking for opportunities to discuss different potential strategy.
Q by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record: You mentioned some of the things you guys have built up here. Do you still feel you need, you mentioned stars or not stars. Do you feel as if you still you need stars to win fans?
A: As I already mentioned, it depends on the strategy and I want to discuss it together with the general manager and the head coach. So, it's teamwork. We have a lot of work to do right now and right here and this work will be done for sure.
Q: Mikhail, has this whole... Has the ownership of the team been more difficult than you expected when you came in, given the amount of success you had owning CSKA and the kind of way you came in, talking about winning championships right away and having a lot of success?
A: I think it's not difficult, it's more fascinating than I expected. Really, there is great competition in the league and from day one, I feel that we need to be championship, but we need a little bit, some luck and I'm sure I'll do my best and I'll do as much as I can do to reach the goal.
Q by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press: As you mentioned, you have made the playoffs every year since you've been in Brooklyn. Do you consider Billy's run here a success? You didn't win the championship but made the playoffs. How do you view the last few years?
A: Uh, you know, just our prior approach helped us to reach three playoffs in a row, but we have failed to go further. And for us, it's important to go further. That's why we need a small reset for this year and I hope we'll be back, not as a playoff team, but as a championship contender. This is my only goal.
Q by unnamed media member: Mikhail, you've mentioned that you've learned lessons and that it's been fascinating for you in your six years now. If you can go back, what, if anything, would you differently knowing what you know now?
A: You know, I don't like to analyze mistakes and lessons in public. I've criticized myself a lot inside of me. Some lessons I already mentioned while others deep inside of me. And trust me, I tortured myself much more than you. So, all your questions are very nice compared for what I have inside.
Gary Sussman, Brooklyn Nets: "Final question"
Q by Howard Megdal of USA Today: Just to clarify, is the idea to create a strategy and find a general manager and coach to adhere to a set of principles? Or are you looking to have a general manager and coach come in and pitch a set of, pitch a strategy that would then be what you'd adhere to?
A: Excuse me, I didn't catch the last part...
Q by Megdal: Is the idea that you'd create a strategy and then look for a GM and a coach to adhere to it? Or are you looking for when GMs to come in to have a set of principles...
A: No, no, no, just during our discussion with different people, we will just speak about the strategy, about the players, what is the concept, et cetera. And we need to have some kind of chemistry between head coach and GM. This is very important.