Mikhail Prokhorov the White Knight

Howard Beck and the New York Times reiterate some themes we’ve been hearing and reading the past few months, calling the transfer of power to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov “the most anticipated ownership change in NBA history.” But more importantly, the article gets into the crux of what kind of owner Prokhorov may be in the NBA, by examining some of the perks of his CSKA Moscow team:

CSKA could be the Dallas Mavericks of Europe. Under Prokhorov — who gave up the team in 2007 — the club spent freely on players, facilities and travel and established a winning culture. Marc Cornstein, a player agent with clients in both the N.B.A. and abroad, said CSKA was run “the most similar to an N.B.A. team as any team in Europe.”

And this is where Prokhorov’s ownership is important. The Nets haven’t appeared like winning was the only thing that mattered since the summer of 2003 when they resigned Jason Kidd and rolled the dice with Alonzo Mourning, which blew up in their faces, but the team clearly was going for broke, realizing that they needed something big to finally get over the hump and win an NBA championship. Since then, we’ve witnessed major players be traded or leave the organization, and replaced with “nice guys” but hardly game changers. I still think guys like LeBron, Wade and Bosh are longshots this summer, very longshots, but if and when those guys either stay where they are or go elsewhere, how is Prokhorov going to respond? That’ll go a long way in determining if the anticipation was worth it.