No One Can Figure Out Mikhail Prokhorov
Before going out to win his fourth national championship as head coach of the Duke Blue Devils last night, there was talk that the New Jersey Nets’ incoming team owner was ready to offer Mike Krzyzewski a $15 mil/year contract to leave Durham. Such talk was quickly dismissed by Coach K.
Still … What else does this Russian guy have up his sleeve, and more importantly, just how far is he willing to go to make an immediate splash and turn the Nets into not only a winning team, but a relevant one?
The great Dave D’Alessandro of the NJ Star-Ledger tracked down a few league execs — people who Prokhorov will be competing against over the coming years in the NBA — for their opinions (and fears) of the new guy moving into the neighborhood:
What would the reaction be around the NBA if an owner threw a $15 million-per-year offer at a new coach — specifically, the reaction among his business partners, those fellow owners who are trying to keep expenditures under control in these difficult times? “They would love it,” the Mavericks owner replied in an e-mail. “It would show he is stupid money, and not a competitive threat.”
“But it only takes one owner to throw that out of whack,” said a third executive. “Even if it’s a combo job (coach and general manager), that $15 million figure is shocking to most people. Besides Phil, the only guy you can justify giving that money to would be Pat Riley, and only if he ran the whole show. But to give that to a coach, even Coach K, that’s going to irritate some people.
“But not me. I’m not surprised about the number. (Prokhorov) strikes me as the kind of guy who would throw money at a problem. And if there’s a bad reaction to it, he couldn’t care less. The Nets are at the bottom, he’ll take them to the top, and he doesn’t care how he does it.”
The Nets certainly don’t scare anyone. Their soon-to-be new boss does, because no one knows what he’ll do, but they’re perfectly aware that whatever it is, it will be big and bold.
One day, Nets fans can only hope, the team itself will strike fear and trepidation in the hearts of its opponents.