English is not the primary language of Russian-born Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, so you can excuse the comment he made during Monday’s press conference as a bit of back and forth lost in translation.
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Or, you could kind of try to understand why the man who just re-assigned former general manager Billy King and fired head coach Lionel Hollins might be a little impatient.
Either way, here we are:
Prokhorov: “Frankly speaking, I deserve championship now much more than six years ago.”
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) January 11, 2016
It’s easy to scoff at, and NBA Twitter sure did. Toss in the owner’s previous statements regarding a marriage/championship guarantee of sorts, as pinned on a five-year plan, and you have a wiseacre crack waiting to happen.
Prokhorov has only been on the NBA scene as a technical owner for five of those six years. He’s managed to both stay highly visible (can the average NBA fan picture what Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander looks like? Probably not) and mostly absent from his team. He also hired a guy in King that many in the NBA were wary of following his GM term with the 76ers. That’s putting it very, very nicely.
Then, there is the language difference. And the fact that with a bunch of cameras and reporters in your face, sometimes attempts at humor fall flat.
Still, even if his spending habits weren’t wise, this is still the guy that spent nearly $200 million on a 2013-14 team that barely made it to the second round of the playoffs. Prokhorov has spent a career demanding results for laying cash on the table, and as we’ve talked about quite a bit over the last few years, nothing has panned out:
— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) January 11, 2016
Even his Barclays Center, a massive facility located in the hippest part of the most major of metropolises, can’t buy a thrill. From the Atlantic Yards Report:
The Barclays Center had a terrible year financially in the fiscal year ending June 2015. Net revenues plummeted, to less than half the total once projected, and the arena lost some $9 million in what was (roughly) its third year in operation…
The arena’s net operating income (NOI) fell well behind expectations, to $38 million, due to declines in event and related revenues, while operating expenses remained high.
We’ve heard this before, particularly two years ago when it was revealed that despite being one of the top-selling arenas in the U.S. in its first year, the Barclays Center was still barely breaking even after paying off its construction debt, thanks to high operating costs and discounts being offered to performers to lure them to Brooklyn instead of one of the New York area’s many other arenas. (This will come as no surprise to professional arena managers, who note that it's rare in these days of fewer touring acts and venue glut for an arena to turn even an operating profit, let alone pay off near-billion-dollar construction debts.)
According to Neil Demause at the Voice, Barclays has been forced to overpay touring acts to eschew the venerable (and, if we’re honest, not all that great-sounding for live music) Madison Square Garden in order to act as the place to play for major touring acts. The issue with this is that there just aren’t as many arena-filling acts as there were a few decades ago. There’s only so much Taylor Swift to go around.
Due to the work of King, whom Prokhorov handed that famed figurative blank check five years ago, the Nets will be without draft picks of their own control until 2019, and they’ll receive no compensation via the draft for surely turning in what will be one of the worst records in the NBA this season. At Monday’s presser Prokhorov noted that he would listen to King’s suggestions for a new GM as he goes about his search, but only “as a friend” and not in a working capacity.
Such a GM could come in the form of John Calipari, scarily wielding absolute control as personnel chief and coach, but as you’ve no doubt already read Adrian Wojnarowski reporting early on Monday that such a hire would cost Prokhorov an astounding $120 million spread out over ten years. With Coach Cal earning his NCAA Kentucky Wildcat millions on the sweat of free labor, that’s just going to be the going rate moving forward.
It’s clear that Prokhorov – who hired the wrong guy while staying in the wrong continent – hasn’t exactly earned a championship.
Does he deserve one? Nah, but the guy just blew through over $2 billion in a five year window, chasing a championship, and he may have to spend $120 million to hire the former Nets coach that didn’t have the temerity to draft Kobe Bryant, while relying on Jamie Feick at times to keep his team afloat.
We can just give Mikhail this one, right?
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