New Jersey Nets majority owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, received mostly positive comments about his recent press conference when he put the kibosh on any Carmelo Anthony trade. Some saw this proclamation as a negotiating ploy. Others saw it as Prokhorov being a white knight emerging from the darkness to save the day. Some saw it as a great symbol of an owner putting a player in his place and shifting power back to the owners. That’s a bit extreme, but considering the CBA coming up, it’s a good angle to take, and maybe it’s true.
However, since ‘Melo never gave a direct “yes” to the Nets or in the media, it has to be assumed that there was a big chance Anthony was going to say “no” to any extension. So, who really had the power?
Whatever the case may be, this whole ‘Melo Drama has been a fiasco the past several months and has taken its toll on both fans and Nets personnel. If Prokhorov is as plugged in as he and his inner circle claims he is, then I have to come to the conclusion that he is to blame for all of this.
It’s no secret that Prokhorov wants one of the top dozen or so players in the NBA and it’s a natural desire. However, depending on who the players are in his top 12, they’ll more than likely be locked up contract-wise. Or, like ‘Melo, want to form a super-team of sorts with another superstar within that top dozen. Prokhorov can only control so much, right?
But, considering his recent display of power, it’s evident he runs the franchise and controls its destiny. And, he should to some degree. However, what he shouldn’t do is show up his workers the way he did Billy King, who looks like the weak link here because of all that’s been going on.
Prokhorov hinted that even King didn’t know about terminating the trade. Joe Dumars received a text from King after Prokhorov’s press conference already began and after Dumars received multiple texts about it. So, we come to the conclusion that Prokhorov wasn’t lying in that King had no idea that the trade negotiations were over. What kind of message is that?
King has gotten a lot of flack and unfair comparisons to former GM Rod Thorn, who changed the franchise around by trading for Jason Kidd and to a lesser degree, Vince Carter. However, he had about a decade to put up his GM record. King hasn’t even had a full season. And what a non-full season it’s been.
For all intents and purposes, King had to cater to the Denver Nuggets in order to acquire Anthony. It was clear that the Nets would be overpaying for a supposed superstar, at least a couple of times. The Nuggets kept wanting more, and because Prokhorov was jonesing for one of the top dozen players in the league, King had to make it work, despite any reservations he might have had with the asking price. We all know that Prokhorov is the owner, but he pays King to handle the basketball decisions. But, like a good worker, King did his thing the best he could. Meanwhile, distractions of this whole ‘Melo situation was starting to hamper the team, which has been admitted by both Prokhorov and head coach Avery Johnson.
But the sluggishness was obvious to anyone that watched the games. Since Prokhorov nixed the ‘Melo distraction, the team has played with fire in their hearts, beating the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons, as well as almost beating the Dallas Mavericks, which was a well-played game by the Nets for the most part.
In any case, Prokhorov should have instructed King to end the deal about a couple of weeks ago when the Nuggets were once again waffling and if the Nets backed out, the Nuggets would have looked like the bad guy and with all of the egg in their face. Despite the recent power play, Prokhorov shares a bit of that egg on his face because there are still doubts that Anthony would have even said “yes” to an extension. A couple of weeks ago, the doubting wasn’t as strong and that gray area would have been swept under the rug to focus on the Nuggets overplaying their hand. As well as King looking good in all of this, which was his right being the point man and public face for the Nets.
Instead, Prokhorov usurps King, making King look weaker on the surface to the Nuggets, the Pistons, and the fanbase. Prokhorov? He looks like a bad ass owner that doesn’t take any crap. I just hope he isn’t talking crap when he says the ‘Melo negotiations are over because it’s almost obvious that ‘Melo only wants to sign with the New York Knicks. I also hope Prokhorov let’s Billy King do his job, free of any obligations to the marketing of the Nets because the best marketing tool for any franchise are for fans to see their players believing, putting in effort, and giving a crap. Just like the Nets have been since the ‘Melo Drama was put to an end.
An end that King should have done a while ago.