It is no secret that Mikhail Prokhorov and others in Nets management think a simple "reset" rather than a "blow-it-up" strategy is the way to move forward ... and it would seem that their choice of a GM will be defined by that thinking, too.
Key to the "reset" strategy is that the Nets have a core of young players to work with. Prokhorov and others on the committee think that Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, along with Rondae Hollis Jefferson and Chris McCullough, would form that core. With the addition of "one or two players" and a "lot of luck," they believe the Nets could vault into championship contention.next season.
So, did Monday's win over Denver give the "resetters" hope, with Chris McCulloiugh's debut and Markel Brown's career high in points? Laura Albanese of Newsday and Brian Lewis of the Post think things look better now than they did when Prokhorov made those comments the day he dumped Lionel Hollins and "reassigned" Billy King.
There was Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, he said, and Markel Brown, and Chris McCullough. Prokhorov said the same three names twice in that interview, unconcerned that the first player had a broken ankle, another had spent the season riding the bench, and the third hadn’t played competitively in more than a year, and had yet to make his NBA debut.
In short, Prokhorov seemed to be overreaching.
But, as Albanese notes, McCullough looked like an NBA player Wednesday, Markel Brown has suddenly starting finding the basket, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson seemed "spry jumping off the bench and celebrating when Johnson hit his shot." Not mentioned was Bojan Bogdanovic who also played well again. After all, he's the only Net headed to Toronto after Wednesday's game. (Prokhorov didn't mention Bogie as part of the young core, but Brett Yormark has.)
Markel Brown told Lewis he didn't know about Prokhorov's comments until the Post reporter mentioned it.
“I was not aware of it,’’ Brown said. “[Twice?] Really? That’s even better. It means a lot to hear it from the owner himself, mentioning me with the young guys. Hopefully in years to come me, Chris and Rondae are able to do big things here.”
Maybe, Albanese suggests, not in so many words, that it ain't that bad here.
Monday was a day when hope didn’t seem quite so outlandish. If the Nets can bank on their youth, in addition to their respectable core of Johnson, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, they might be able to lure the big-name free agents their formidable cap space can afford them.
And as Lewis notes, there's a heavy burden on the younger members of said core.
They’re going to have to show enough on the court the rest of the season to not scare off free agents they’ll court this summer. And that means the youth will have to step up to complement Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.
We can hope.