The Brooklyn Nets, and to an extent Jason Kidd, came clean last summer. Kidd’s attempt at a front office palace coup, pitched in the hopes of replacing Nets general manager Billy King with either Kidd or Kidd’s handpicked de facto GM, was an outright admission that the former Nets head coach didn’t trust King to run a basketball team. Kidd was later dealt, essentially, to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he will no doubt attempt the same thing in due time with sitting Milwaukee GM John Hammond.
The Nets, meanwhile, more or less gave up on their boffo hopes of buying their way into an NBA title. The team passed on re-signing Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston, mindful of the fact that any increase in salary would be worth about thrice what the actual salary figure was listed as because of luxury tax laws. The Nets didn’t go into full rebuild mode, as nobody is lining up to take those contracts off their hands, but they did just about sign away on being pretty good in the wake of 2013-14’s disappointment.
There were even rumblings that billionaire Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, after losing a reported $144 million last year even while playing into the second round and working in a massive market, would look to sell high and dump the team on the highest bidder.
In a rare meeting with local media on Monday, however, Prokhorov vowed to remain owner and merely “listen” to offers, while pointing out that he still intends to pay out of his own pocket for an eventual championship.
He also said good riddance to one Jason Frederick Kidd. From Stefan Bondy at the New York Daily News:
“I think there is a nice proverb in English,” Prokhorov said when asked about departed head coach Jason Kidd. “Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.”
“I think we shouldn’t get mad, I think we should get even,” Prokhorov added about Kidd’s power play in Brooklyn and desertion to Milwaukee. “And we’ll see it on the court.”
It’s way, way better if you actually hear him say it:
(Cue mandatory and clichéd "Rocky IV" reference.)
Now, that’s pretty dope. As was telling the press that losses of $144 million and a near-$200 million payroll was “not a big deal.”
Prokhorov may have ruined that sort of badass goodwill, however, by mentioning his team’s “brand” twice in one answer while discussing the 2013 deal for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. From the Daily News:
“I think we did a very good deal, and it was a great investment in the Brooklyn brand,” he said about the trade for Garnett and Pierce. “So I think you know that for me it was very important to invest some money to make the team better, and to invest some money in Brooklyn Nets brand. Because as soon as we moved to New York, it was a great lift for us, from a business point of view, but of course you have to invest to be like the top teams of the NBA. But if you look on the market cap, I think my investment’s minimum five, six times now more than I spent. So I have a nice get.”
Despite the annoying “brand” nonsense, the Nets owner is correct. Despite the move to Brooklyn, the marvelous new arena and other flashy perks, 2012-13’s Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo-led squad was rather anonymous. It even lost a borderline-indifferent Game 7 at home to a Chicago Bulls team led by Joakim Noah on one foot and Nate Robinson on Tom Thibodeau’s one last nerve.
Luckily, Prokhorov had the right GM for the job. Billy King has made a career out of dealing for and signing the biggest names possible, regardless of fit or salary and in spite his team’s future. King cobbled together draft picks in order to deal for Garnett and Pierce, and he signed a huge name as coach in Jason Kidd just weeks after Kidd’s final game with the crosstown New York Knicks.
Ideally, the team would be able to squeeze one last bit of magic out of its veteran legs and match up well on its way toward a championship. Instead, the brittle squad started slow, flirted with a lottery pick that it would have had to give up, before rebounding to win 44 games. It bowed out in the second round without a peep, and even Jason Kidd could see the writing on the wall – preferring to leave the Big Apple and a playoff team for a squad in small market Milwaukee that had just cobbled together the worst record in the NBA.
The entire 2013-14 season was a sobering session for all involved, and a recovering Nets squad will have its work cut out for itself as it attempts to make the playoffs yet again. The squad is still set to pay the luxury tax this year and next, first-round draft picks are few and far between, and Jason Kidd’s young and potential-laden Bucks squad isn’t too many seasons away from eclipsing Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference.
And then there is this:
Kidd on Prokhorov's comments yesterday: "I'm no longer in Brooklyn. Unfortunately they keep talking about it. I don't."
— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) November 4, 2014
At least the brand is in good shape.
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