Nets’ Prokhorov: easy decision to hit reset button now
NEW YORK (AP) — Mikhail Prokhorov wanted a championship, and the Nets never got close.
Now he wants a reset, and said it was an easy decision to start it now.
“If we look at the team for the time being, it’s clear we’re doing not the best way,” Prokhorov said Monday.
A day after firing coach Lionel Hollins and reassigning general manager Billy King, Prokhorov blamed himself for a win-quick strategy that’s left the Nets in one of the NBA’s worst situations — then said he hopes to contend for a title next season.
He’ll try to do that with new leadership that he hopes will help clarify what kind of team the Nets want to be and what kind of personnel they will need. The Russian billionaire had determined more than a month ago that King and Hollins weren’t among them.
“I have to look at the reality and make a change if things are not going in the right direction,” Prokhorov said. “That’s what we have done. It was just very easy.”
The Nets made the playoffs the last three years but are 10-27 entering Monday night’s game against San Antonio. Their likely lottery spot will go to Boston as payment from one of King’s big trades, and they don’t fully control their own first-round pick until 2019.
“Our 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,” Prokhorov said. “That’s why we need a small reset for this year and I hope we’ll be back not as a playoff team, as a championship contender. This is my only goal.”
He wanted a title within five years of buying the team in 2010, and King was aggressive in trying to build a contender quickly. He acquired Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in moves that resulted in just one series victory and consistently came at a future cost the Nets are paying now.
“I take full responsibility for the state of the team and I think Billy King did his best,” Prokhorov said. “Just, we need a fresh look.”
King released a statement Monday night thanking Prokhorov and Nets executives, coaches and players.
“My family and I thoroughly loved our experience in New Jersey and here in Brooklyn, and hope fans experience the success they deserve,” he said.
Tony Brown is the interim coach and Prokhorov said assistant general manager Frank Zanin will oversee the front office until King’s replacement is hired. He offered no timetable for either job — he ideally wants it to be two people — and expects to have a long list of candidates.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who formerly coached the Nets in New Jersey, could be on it.
“Coach Cal is a great coach but we won’t be discussing today on any name because it’s the first day of our, like, new approach,” Prokhorov said.
Prokhorov has largely been an absentee owner, spending most of his time in Russia focused on his business and political interests. But he vowed to be around Brooklyn more for the time being to lead the search for new leadership, adding he will personally meet all candidates.
He was swayed by the Nets’ strengths — the New York market, a state-of-the-art arena and new training facility soon to follow, salary cap space — in thinking a quick turnaround is possible.
“I hope next season, championship contender,” he said.
Starting the search now, he said, will allow them to work deliberately in finding the person or people who share his vision.
“I think it’s very fair to the fans, to the team,” Prokhorov said. “As soon as we have our decision it’s better to start earlier than later. So now we have a very good position.”