- Posted: 5:21 PM, April 10, 2012
Much has transpired since then. Anthony eventually went to the Knicks, the Nets stunned everyone in the NBA by acquiring superstar point guard Deron Williams from Utah then spent the past several months trying to pair him with Dwight Howard as they prepare to move across the Hudson to Brooklyn, only for Howard to decide, at the last minute, to opt-in to the final year of his contract, pushing off his free agency until July 2013.
With that in mind, Prokhorov touched on several subjects during a 20-minute long press availability inside the shell of the Barclays Center, which continues to move toward completion in time for a Jay-Z concert to mark the grand opening Sept. 28.
Here are some thoughts on the various subject Prokhorov addressed:
- The most important thing for any Nets fan to hear from Prokhorov was about Williams, who has repeatedly said since before the season began that he plans to opt-out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent.
At first, the Russian billionaire tried to be coy about the situation, saying," As you know, NBA rules prohibit me to comment on the potential interest. So, please wait for the summer, and I’ll tell you all of the details. For the time being, it’s top, top secret for us."
When he was later pressed on the issue, Prokhorov joked that he couldn't hear what player's name the reporter had said. But then he said that he'd met with Williams yesterday, and that he was happy with the conversation.
"He really wants to win, and I want to maybe win even more," Prokhorov said. "I don't really want to go into details, but I think, at this stage, we're on the same page."
Still, it's safe to say that Nets fans will likely be concerned when they heard Prokhorov stressing patience with the building process of the franchise, as Williams has stated that he's ready to win now.
"The Nets, like the arena, is still under construction," Prokhorov said. "It's in the building stage. And I'll keep my prediction on the championship ... I'll do my best, together with my partners, to make the Brooklyn Nets the champions of the NBA, and I'm very committed to this."
He also couldn't help but get in a jab at Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks who not only has taken some shots at Prokhorov in the past, but also is likely to be the Nets' biggest competition for Williams' services this summer.
"Let the best man win," Prokhorov said with a smile. "If he wins, I'll crush him in a kickboxing throwdown."
- Speaking of Howard, Prokhorov also addressed the Nets' pursuit of the Magic superstar. Surprisingly, the first thing he discussed was the rumored preseason meeting in Miami between he, general manager Billy King, Howard and his agent, Dan Fegan. Magic officials claimed this meeting happened, and threatened tampering chargers against the Nets. Those charges were never filed, and Prokhorov dispelled the notion that the meeting ever happened.
"I think every owner wants to have a great player," he said. "And, of course, during our strategy, we tried to use any opportunity.
"But as far as all of these rumors are concerned, I think that people from the office, they planned to visit Miami and to speak with the agent of Nene at the time [in December]. That’s why, maybe, there was a lot of rumors from Dwight Howard people, because they have the same agent.
"That’s why, as soon as we have a legal opportunity for trades, we will do our best to find the best pieces for our team."
- Prokhorov also addressed the job performance of head coach Avery Johnson and King, who was in attendance, praising both men for the job they have done this season.
"I think Billy and Avery are doing a great job," he said. "We have a common view, not only on the day-to-day routine but on our strategic goal. To have a championship team, you need to have a global view, a strategic view and a common knowledge of how to reach those goals.
"From my point of view, we have a great team spirit ... and I hope next season we’ll be much better than the previous two."
Along those lines, Prokhorov cited the team's ridiculous number of injuries this season as the reason the Nets will miss the playoffs.
"I think we're slowly coming to, more or less, a very good situation," he said. "If not for the crazy injuries this year, I'm sure we would have been in the playoffs. But we're patient, and I hope our fans will share our approach to the championship.
"For us, it's very important that they trust in us. I will do my best, and I'm very committed."
- I was also struck by Prokhorov's use of the phrase 'I'm very committed.' He said it at least three times during the press conference, and clearly wanted to drive home a message that just because he isn't in the stands for every game doesn't mean he isn't paying attention.
That said, when he was asked if he would be attending more games now that his bid for the Russian presidency has ended, it was hard to tell if that would be the case.
"I like to pay attention to my team," he said. "It doesn’t matter whether I’m in Moscow or here in New York. I watch usually 80 percent of the games, I read the stats for all of the games, and I have long conversations with my people with the team.
"I think what is more important is not what you see. What’s more important is what’s behind-the-scenes, the day-to-day routine and our strategic plans. I’m very committed and I’m very involved in the strategy process. My job is to know that the team has all the best [tools] it can. That’s the most important thing. Of course, now I can more often be here to visit them and see games live."
Prokhorov later added that he hopes to attend more games in person.
- In regards to his failed Russian presidential bid last month, Prokhorov also said that he doesn't think his burgeoning political career, which was boosted by a pair of mayoral wins in Russian cities last week by independent candidates he supported, won't affect his ownership of the team. He went on to speak passionately about his goals and aspirations in Russian politics.
"I think there’s no mingling of my ownership or my potential political career," he said. "For me, the last presidential election in Russia was a starting point for my potential career. But, unlike the presidential run, now I have time [and] no pressure to make an immediate [next] step. So I’m in a stage of thinking and working out my political strategy.
"The world is changing, Russia is changing and facing a very interesting time. There is a new generation of Russians, and this election, to me, was a great testimony. There is 20 percent of the Russian population that are looking for changes, severe changes in the economy and the world, to be a part of the global world. It’s a nice start, but [later] I can comment in a more practical way."