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Mikhail Prokhorov says Nets can make quick turnaround
NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets have the third-worst record in the NBA, just cleaned house and are without total control over their first-round pick until 2019. Despite all of that, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says his team isn't that far off from making a quick turnaround.
Prokhorov made his way from Russia to New York to address reporters a day after he decided to fire coach Lionel Hollins and reassign general manager Billy King within the organization.
"Our approach helped us reach the playoffs three seasons in a row, but we have failed [to win a title], and it's important for us to go [further]," Prokhorov said Monday at Barclays Center. "That's why we need a small reset for this year, and I hope we will be back as a playoff team and as a championship contender. It's my only goal."
Prokhorov said the organization began thinking about making a change six weeks ago. Assistant Tony Brown will serve as interim coach for the rest of the season, beginning with Monday's home game against the San Antonio Spurs. Assistant general manager Frank Zanin will field calls from teams.
During King's 5½ seasons at the helm, the Nets traded 11 first-round picks (including Derrick Favors and swaps), made four coaching changes and spent $123.43 million in luxury taxes in an all-out effort to try to win a championship. Blockbuster deals for Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett proved mostly futile, and the team won just one playoff series over that span.
"I take full responsibility for the state of the team, and I think Billy King did his best," Prokhorov said. "We need a fresh look. We should be able to take courage to turn down the opportunities, which maybe don't fit to our strategy. Maybe this is the second lesson from the last six years."
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.
The Nets (10-27) have some quality core pieces in Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic and the injured Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough. They will practice at a new $50 million facility on the Brooklyn waterfront starting in February and are expected to have around $40 million in cap space going into the summer. If they keep mostly the same roster, upgrades at point guard and swingman will be necessary.
After seeming to lack a plan for the future, Prokhorov said he hopes to implement one this time around.
"I can share with you what my strategy is," Prokhorov said. "I think that I want us to have a much firmer blueprint [of] what kind of players we are looking for and why. There needs to be a strategic balance, developed with a new coach and with 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 are we balancing with younger athletes without superstar system, or are we about 3-point shooting or defense or speed?
"Of course, we can't be anything at the same time, so it will be very important conversation with the future GM and future coach."
Prokhorov seemed to take a veiled shot at former franchise point guard Williams and Hollins when he added, "We are playing in the best market in the world, and of course in that market there is great pressure, a lot of attention and a very active press, which is why we need players and a coach who can [deal] with the pressure and survive."
The owner downplayed King's involvement in the search for his replacement.
"He can send me, you know, his idea, as a friend," Prokhorov said. "But for the time being, it's not his job. And his position for the time being is under discussion."
Prokhorov said he believes two people should hold the positions of general manager and head coach. He called rumored candidate John Calipari "a great coach, but we won't be discussing any names."
"I'm not in a hurry," Prokhorov added. "We'll put a lot of names in the list. As soon as we're ready, as soon as deal is fixed, you will be the first to know."
Prokhorov, who became full owner of the team in December, came in with hopes of winning it all and still hopes to achieve that goal. He said he has "no ideas" to sell and will even spend more time in New York than usual.
"Frankly speaking, I deserve a championship now much more than six years ago," he said. "I think we have been really bold, and we did our best in order to reach a 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. ... I'm very committed to the championship, and I'm all-in."