Saturday, March 17, 2012

NJ/BKN Nets ~ Team Needs Their Owner Back

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

NJ/BROOKLYN NETS:  It's High Time the Team's Owner Got Back to Work.

The organization is roughly six months away from swinging the doors open for business at Barclays Center, and more or less, eight months away from playing their first ever game inside their new home in Brooklyn.  I said this before, and I'll say it again.  Now that Mikhail Prokhorov's failed bid to win the Russian presidency is over and done with, it is high time the majority owner take his place inside the team's new downtown offices off Flatbush Avenue and became an active participant in Nets' affairs again.  He needs to punch-in and get to work at once, for his team is in distress.

Mikhail Prokhorov has, and still misses numerous opportunities to out-Media the other basketball owner in town at a time when Dolan, and his organization, are floundering again.  As the Nets continue their final season in New Jersey and transition towards their future in Kings County, the owner's mere availability for a sound bite COULD have gone a long way in this town towards creating a stream of talk over the airwaves about the Nets.

In light of Coach D'Antoni quitting his post, Melo and the Knicks had a real PR grenade on their hands.  And if what "they" say is true - that even bad publicity is good publicity - then Mikhail Prokhorov is dropping the ball, as the Knicks still dominate the tabloids; and probably always will.  But then, the Brooklyn effect still remains to be seen.  However as the Nets inch their way closer to Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush, Nets coverage in the tabloids has indeed picked up, if ever so slightly, as well.  That's where Prokhorov can also pitch in, if only he made himself more available.

If you remember, when he initially burst on the NBA scene and was introduced to the greater public, Prokhorov's calm, cool, and collected bravado; yet his sinister humor were all the rage at ESPN's Draft Lottery show.  In jest, Prokhorov said he'd have to kill (whomever) if he ever revealed his plan to secure Brooklyn and the Nets a championship within five years.  Double-sentiment humor and a strong personality may not seem like much, but in the current state of affairs inside Madison Square Garden these days, the Nets owner could have been dominating his own corner of the press by now.

The way I see things, James Dolan has done everything to trip over himself ever since Mikhail Prokhorov came to town, and Barclays Center started going up.  In his absence from the local scene however, the Net owner has, and still misses opportunities to embed his personal stamp on the eve season of this rivalry. With the Knicks in disarray, Mikhail Prokhorov could have at least been on hand to keep the Nets a part of daily conversation.

What can an owner realistically do within the scope of day to day operations?  Well, if you look across the river at James Dolan and the mess he's created with his team, owners are capable of a lot; mayhem even.  But an owner can also serve his/her team well.  In order to do that however, you need to be an active participant or hire good people.  Remember I said that for later.

Prokhorov also came on the scene and; albeit fleeting; gave the Nets sizzle.  He then he took it with him to the other side of the world.  The Nets now need some of that sizzle back because lately matters are taking increasing turns for the worse.  Meanwhile,  Mikhail Prokhorov has been letting billboards and the construction of a new arena do all the talking for the organization lately.  That said, I feel he needs to be on sight to at least seize some headlines and be a more visible champion of the Nets' move to Brooklyn.  Whether the team is currently winning on the court or not, you still have to show a potential fan base; one you're still trying to attract; that you're wholly invested in the endeavour.

So why is Prokhorov's presence so vital right now?  Well, for starters, Dwight Howard opted into his contract with the Magic.  So come November, Howard will still be playing in Orlando.  It puts to bed the long played out mini-drama of Howard Watch.  Beyond next season, Dwight Howard said the Magic would have to roll the dice.  By then, the Nets may no longer be in a position financially to acquire the center.  Additionally, Deron Williams may no longer be a Net by then.  Without securing Dwight Howard's services, the likelihood Deron Williams stays a Net are now very remote.  All that's left to possibly keep Deron Williams in a Nets uniform next season will be the Guard's own personal want to stay and play in Brooklyn.  Otherwise, he has no tangible reason to stay now.

When the Nets learned Dwight Howard would not be available during the trade deadline, nor at the end of this season as a free agent, as part of a Plan-B, I believe General Manager Billy King made a very hasty acquisition.  He traded Mehmet Okur, and Shawne Williams; which were fine to part with; to the Portland Trailblazers.  But Billy King also sent a protected 2012 first round draft pick in the package to secure small forward, Gerald Wallace.  It was New Jersey's own pick.  They still retain Houston's.  But it is with the pick that I have a problem, and believe the Nets paid too much.  I would have much rather seen that pick stay in Nets' hands.  This also hampers the flexibility the Nets once had under the salary cap going into next season.

I am not big fan of Billy King.  I'm not exactly impressed with his work in Philadelphia.  But I'm not sure there's a  more suitable replacement right now.  And besides, replacing him now would b ill-timed with the move into Brooklyn and all.

Prokhorov can do little himself regarding the talent on the court.  That's why he needs to get back here and keep an eye on his GM.  And if anybody, at least he can energize the environment surrounding his club.  He's a very charismatic person.  It's an attribute he is underutilizing.  Meanwhile, the Nets suffer on the floor, and take their lumps in the Media.


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