Mikhail Prokhorov flew in from Russia and arrived Monday morning to discuss the firing of Lionel Hollins and the reassignment of Billy King. Things were different this time around.
There would be nobody else to help Prokhorov discuss the hole the Nets have dug themselves in. There would be no charm, quips or personality during this press conference to help wiggle out of certain situations.
It would be frank discussion from Prokhorov --and only Prokhorov-- on where the Nets are headed this season and beyond. It was the optics of accountability.
He took accountability, which is good. He's still willing to spend money and repeatedly flaunted many of the positive things the Nets have going for them to lure in free agents, which is good.
But expectations versus reality seem way off, again, similar to the "five-year plan" that essentially led us to where we are today. Prokhorov, seemingly a winner at everything in his life besides owning a championship-caliber basketball team, was more than confident in saying the Nets wouldn't compete for the playoffs next year, but rather a championship.
The Russian oligarch expressed confidence and promise in his voice, but left with uncertainty still lingering among the Brooklyn Nets and its fanbase. They don't even have a GM with the trade deadline less than six weeks away.
So now Tony Brown is the driver on this long trip across the bridge. He's the driver that lets you blast the music and sing along as loud as you want, but he's not making the ride go any smoother or quicker than Lionel Hollins. He's a good guy for this young and developing group, but it doesn't mean the wins will come any easier.
Everyone is asking, "Are we there yet?"
But where to? Nobody knows.
We know the Nets players like Tony and seem happy that Lionel is gone, but that doesn't necessarily mean things will get better. They might be happier as a group, but that doesn't change the fact that they're 19 games under .500 at the halfway point of the season.
In other words, expect some more bumps en route to the other side of the bridge.
Where we stand
The Nets went 1-4 this week and continue to drop in the standings. They're now 11-30, which ranks 2nd to last in the Eastern Conference - two games better than the Western Conference's bottom feeding Lakers and six games better than the lowly Sixers.
They started the week by extending their home losing streak to 10 with a blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs. They answered strong, however, with a nice win over the Melo-less Knicks, giving Tony Brown his first win as Interim Head Coach. Then, to close out the week, they lost two games by double digits to the Portland Trailblazers and Atlanta Hawks.
Game of the Week
This is about as good as it going to get this week. It was the only win of the week, so it's chosen by default.
But it was a good win. It was especially a good time to snap a 10-game home losing streak with Knick fans raiding the Barclays Center. They protected the place they can hardly call home with a 110-104 victory over their crosstown rivals.
The combination of Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young and Joe Johnson combined for 53 points, but it was Shane Larkin who got the last laugh against his old team and nailed the dagger with 34 seconds to go. Shane "Tiny Hands" Larkin scored 17 points in front of the man that was so quick to criticize him.
They also held Kristaps Porzingis to just a 5-of-14 shooting night. They weren't gonna let another blowout occur. Not on their home court at least.
Weak of the Week
Atlanta 114, Brooklyn 86.
It was once a tie game at 57 apiece in the third quarter, but the Hawks jumped out on a 27-11 advantage and increased the lead to 16 heading into the fourth. Atlanta ran it up even more in the fourth quarter as the Nets went down by as much as 30.
The issue with this game was how long Brook Lopez and the starters were kept out. Tony Brown wants to help the young guys and develop them in tight situations, but the Nets still want to win games to avoid giving Boston their pick. Again, Tony is a good guy but his strategy to WIN the game seemed a little out of whack. We'll cut him some slack, though.
It feels good to finally say that. Joe averaged 15 points on 57 percent shooting this past week. In the month of January, he's shooting 52.6 percent from three with six games of hitting two or more. Versus the Knicks, he nailed one of the biggest shots of the game with under a minute remaining.
He's known to grow cold in the month of January from his past days in Europe, but nobody expected it to get this bad. Bojan's biggest issue is by far his inconsistency, which is only the outcome of diminished confidence and aggressiveness in his game.
This past week, Bogie averaged six points in the four games where he scored 14 points in one game, but totals of 0, 3 and 7 in the others. In the month of January, Bogdanovic has averaged seven points on 27 percent shooting from the field and 22 percent from deep. In December, he shot 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.
This is his shotchart from this month:
Highlight of the Week
BROOK LOPEZ DENIES DAMIAN LILLARD AKA DEFENDS THE ENTIRE NETS ORGANIZATION:
Back to Prokhorov and ownership as they fill the vacant positions.
We know well enough that these have to be the absolute right moves in order to fix the mess that the Nets find themselves in. Since Prokhorov bought the Nets, they've had five different coaches. They're in the midst of looking for a sixth.
At this point, it's time they put the bad moves in the past and forget the number of coaches they've had. Just make the right moves.
With that being said, Prokhorov has been a hands-off owner. he's said --and told Adam Silver-- he's more more hands-on. But for him to be a successful hands-on owner who lives close to 6,000 miles away, he must trust the people running the ship. And I'm not only talking about his Russian counterparts that report to him from the states. I'm talking about the basketball minds he brings in, the GM and coach that plan on fixing this thing.
Whoever comes in at GM, whether it be Bryan Colangelo, Danny Ferry or whoever else is being considered, remember this: Prokhorov just purchased Nassau Coliseum. With his plan to fix the Nets and think ‘future,' Prok is attempting to create the most illustrious D-League team the league has ever seen.
Staff needs to be filled out, so one must assume Prokhorov and company will depend on the new general manager to help bring in his own people to start a developmental team out in Long Island.
The process sounds like it's being done the RIGHT way this time around. Or as he'll call it, during this quick ‘reset'. But whatever basketball brains are brought into fill the spots will have more on their plate than just fixing the roster and getting draft picks back. It's about the future and not making the same mistakes that were made when first moving to Brooklyn... Like having a practice facility in Brooklyn. Like having a D-League team of your own.
The new GM/Coach will have plenty of power, but only if the Russians give them full trust. No second-guessing and no interfering to make a headline splash.