Nets’ owner Prokhorov: team “one good player” away

Mikhail Prokhorov
Mikhail Prokhorov speaks to Nets fans before Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs Saturday night. (AP)

Mikhail Prokhorov
Mikhail Prokhorov speaks to Nets fans before Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs Saturday night. (AP)

Brooklyn Nets majority owner and Russian billionaire oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov spoke at Barclays Center before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoff series, telling the fans that in the Blackout in Brooklyn, he came to “keep the lights on.”

But before speaking to the crowd Saturday night, Prokhorov went on Bloomberg Television to talk about his team. The owner, who earlier said this year that a successful season would involve making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, says the Nets only need two more things to be an elite team — talent and time.

“One more good player, and we need time to make a really strong team,” Prokhorov said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on April 19th.

Getting one more good player may be an issue for Prokhorov’s Nets, who are capped out through the 2015-16 season thanks to large contracts for Deron Williams (five years, $98 million), Joe Johnson (four years, $90 million), Brook Lopez (four years, $61 million), and Gerald Wallace (four years, $40 million). Unless the Nets make major — and unprecedented — moves, they’ll have no room to sign anyone above the mini mid-level exception (worth roughly three years and $10 million) until the 2015-16 offseason.

The Nets dangled forward Kris Humphries — on the books for one more year at $12 million — along with prospects and picks at the trade deadline, but were unable to find a deal worth taking the plunge. They reportedly had a deal on the table with the Charlotte Bobcats to swap Humphries for shooting guard Ben Gordon, but did not pull the trigger.

In an interview with YES Network’s CenterStage earlier this year, Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo praised Prokhorov’s commitment to winning. “To me, he’s a perfect NBA owner; every owner in the league says they want to win a championship, but not a lot of them are willing to put the money out there, and he’s already shown that he’s willing to do that.

“Secondly, he’s very serious about it; his line of questions was, if you ask about a certain player, Brook Lopez, for instance: “What’s he like?” “Well, I really like him, he’s a good big man,” (to which) he says, “Can we win a championship with Brook Lopez at center?” “Yes.” Next. And, he asked, “Strengths? Weaknesses? You like him? You don’t like him?” But the last question is always, “Is he going to be a good piece on us winning a championship?”

Prokhorov has also guaranteed a championship within five years, and told Bloomberg that his prophecy may come true this year (“every team have a chance”). He has previously said that he’ll punish himself by getting married if the Nets don’t win a title. “I am the most devoted guy for the championship now.”

Read More: Bloomberg Businessweek — Nets’ Owner Says Another Top Player Needed to Reach Elite Status