Nets Rumors: Prokhorov eyeing Russian replacement for Billy King

Andrey Vatutin
Andrey Vatutin
Andrey Vatutin

Last May, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that there were serious rumblings of an extension for Nets general manager Billy King, the architect of a Nets team that produced one playoff series win in three years in Brooklyn (soon to be four) despite high expectations and higher luxury tax bills.

Today, a Eurohoops report indicated that Nets Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov — who now controls 100% of the franchise — is eyeing a candidate to replace King when his contract expires this summer: Andrey Vatutin, who served as CEO and vice president (and later president) of Prokhorov’s former Russian team, CSKA Moscow. As NetsDaily notes, Vautin has numerous other ties to Prokhorov:

Vatutin, now 42, replaced Prokhorov’s chief sports advisor and Nets board member Sergey Kushchenko as president in 2009. Prokhorov had asked Kushchenko to run the Russian Biathlon Union in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Vatutin had long been Kushchenko’s assistant at CSKA. Prokhorov owned CSKA for a decade but was forced to sell in 2008.

Vatutin had been rumored as Prokhorov’s choice as Nets assistant general manager in 2010 but decided against leaving Moscow. He would be the first European GM in the NBA.

In 2012, Vatutin told RealGM that he believed in the nature of a three-year plan. “In my point of view, it is impossible to think about one season. … I believe that three years is enough time to build any sports team.” The Nets will have cap space in the next three seasons, but lack draft picks.

Vautin would be a risky hire as an NBA unknown, especially with the NBA’s cap spiking in the next two seasons and the importance of the Nets succeeding in free agency. The 10-24 Nets do not control the rights to a first-round draft pick until 2019, and will have $40 million in cap room this upcoming offseason.

EuroHoops — Prokhorov wants Vatutin as GM