NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says he’s proud of his team’s mettle despite falling short in the playoffs for the second straight year.
“I’d like to thank Nets management and players for all their efforts over the course of this crazy season. Despite roster changes, injuries and a difficult start, you clawed us back into contention,” Prokhorov said in a statement released by the team Thursday. “It made for a thrilling spring. And to the fans, thank you for your support through thick and thin. Next season, we pick up right where we left off!”
The Nets were sent packing on Wednesday night at the hands of the Miami Heat, who won the Eastern Conference semifinals series in five games.
For the Nets, more than $180 million in salary and luxury tax was supposed to bring a championship. Instead, the Russian billionaire got only a trip to the second round as his return on a massive investment. Brooklyn played much of the season without center Brook Lopez, struggled through the first two months, then turned it on after Jan. 1.
The Nets hired rookie coach Jason Kidd after last year’s first-round defeat to Chicago. The re-tooling was kicked to another level when general manager Billy King pulled off a draft day blockbuster, trading for Boston stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Some big decisions — mainly regarding the futures of Pierce and Garnett — are looming. Pierce will be a free agent; Garnett has a year left on his deal, though it’s been speculated he will consider retirement.
Garnett left after Wednesday’s loss without comment.
“Emotions are too fresh right now,” Pierce said.
Prokhorov has said he expects to win a title by 2015.
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