Did he deliver? As we wrote this morning, this was crunch time for Mikhail Prokhorov, the organization and the fans. Here's our take.
Mikhail Prokhorov was both honest in talking about his frustrations with the team --his inner "torture" as he called it, but extremely optimistic for the future of the 10-27 Brooklyn Nets, saying that he "expects them to be a championship contender next season," but he admitted what has become apparent ... "playing in New York is a different animal."
Of course, he should've been aware of that when moving the team to Brooklyn, instead of just rushing the process and trying to dethrone the Knicks. And despite it all, he seems overconfident that he can make a championship happen immediately.
Sources close to Prokhorov say he means this in total honesty. not as a crowd pleaser during a tough time. But the thing is; how does this get done?
The Nets do not have a General Manager at the moment. They're six weeks away from the trade deadline and they need to have somebody who's going to answer the calls ... even if the calls aren't realistic.
Where does that leave us now? Who do teams call if they want to make a deal? Billy King's assistant, Frank Zanin. But moving forward after Zanin's time, he said he would like a separate GM and coach for the future jobs.
"My perception that there is some kind friendly contradiction between GM and the coach," Prokhorov said. "I prefer to have like both, the general manager and the head coach. This is my view on this."
So that seemingly puts John Calipari out of the race, who reportedly wants $120 million over 10 years to come to the NBA. Yikes!
"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." (Minutes after Prokhorov made that comment, Calipari tweeted that he really isn't interested.)
What is that new approach? Prokhorov talked about it both in the press conference and in a letter to season ticket holders. He was a bit more articulate in the letter, stating, n a word - strategy. We will no longer be a team that seeks to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. We create our opportunities with a clear idea of what we need for success. We are placing team identity and core values above all else."
Less opportunism, more strategy. Good
It's also good that they aren't going to rush. That was a theme today. In order to fix this problem and find the right guys, it's crucial the Nets don't jump at the first target they see or a ‘sexy' hire to make a splash or recover from a previous bad move. The same way they jumped at Jason Kidd, and the same way they rushed with Lionel Hollins, who reportedly never met the owner before getting hired. Problem is Prokhorov is too often 5,000 miles away. He said he'd rectify that as well (which he also promised Adam Silver.)
"In the current situation, for sure I will spend much more time here meeting people, looking for opportunities to discuss different potential strategy," he said. Gotta like that as well.
Of course, until they find the right guys, nobody can be too sure what things are going to look like. In the meantime, it was nice to hear Prokhorov be accountable for the mess that's occurred this season.
"I take full responsibility for the state of the team," Prokhorov said. He also said the media criticism of him is nothing compared to his own self-criticism.
"I don't like to analyze mistakes and lessons in public," Prokhorov said later. "I criticize myself a lot inside. Some lessons I have already mentioned. Trust me, I have tortured myself more than you."
He also seemed to suggest that Billy King would not be as significant an "advisor" as some have written. How significant? Well, that's to be determined. "He can send me any of his ideas as a friend, but for the time being, it's not his job," Prokhorov said. "And his position for the time being is under discussion."
Notice how he referred to him as a "friend". It shows the mutual respect between King and the organization despite the poor track record.
Personally, if you're the Nets -- for the sake of saving face and staying true to what the fans want - I think it would be best for King to be completely gone. Pack the bags and move on. It just seems strange that they'd keep him around with an unnamed decision. Can't he essentially stick around on the low, until his contract is up?
You can't ask for much more out of Prokhorov in terms of his optimism and taking the blame. He isn't rushing the process of finding the "right fix" and he understands that New York is a "completely different animal." Be the Nets. There is no need to be the Knicks or anything like them.
Prokhorov, a winner at almost everything in his life, is expected to be confident in the team. But how realistic is this? As a fan you want your owner to say they'll become championship contenders, but under this circumstances right now, that seems extremely unlikely.
To him, as mentioned, anything is possible when you're a winner.
"If we compare it to now and six years ago, we have state of the art arena in New York," Prokhorov said. "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."
If he's "all in," then we have no other choice but to trust the man that got the Nets to Brooklyn in the first place. But expectations vs. reality seem a bit lopsided. They still aren't getting their picks back and all the bricks and mortar of Barclays Center, the HSS Training Center and Nassau Coliseum isn't going to change that.
So in the future, hopefully he chooses to be more strategic than opportunistic, as he said. in his pursuit to fix the mess the Nets find themselves in.