NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said Monday he will not give up control of the team and downplayed the club’s money losses last season as “not a big deal.”
Speaking before the Nets’ home opener, Prokhorov says he is willing to listen to offers to sell a minority share of the team but that nothing is imminent.
There had been reports last month that he had been involved in discussions about selling part of the team, though general manager Billy King said afterward that Prokhorov wouldn’t sell his majority stake.
“My position is that I will not give up control of the team, but you know I’m quite happy when somebody is sending me a nice offer without taking my controlling interest,” Prokhorov said. “I think for the time being nothing is imminent, but still I think it’s not bad just to listen.”
Sprinkling humor among his talk about basketball business, the Russian billionaire also joked about the departure of former coach Jason Kidd but added that the Nets “shouldn’t get mad, I think we should get even.”
Prokhorov bought the team in 2010 and had set a goal of winning a championship in five years, though the Nets are not considered serious contenders this season.
“I stay committed to the championship. I think if the stars align, we can do this,” Prokhorov said.
The bachelor has often said he would get married if the Nets didn’t meet his five-year plan, and he said he hasn’t begun the search for a bride.
“By the way, we have lost George Clooney, I think that is enough for this year,” Prokhorov said.
Prokhorov signed off a blockbuster trade with Boston last June that brought the Nets Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and left the Nets with a bill of nearly $200 million in salaries and luxury taxes.
ESPN.com had reported that the Nets’ basketball operations department lost $144 million last season.
“It’s not a big deal just because I personally compensated this money from my pocket and that’s why I will keep the structure for the time being,” Prokhorov said.
They let Pierce leave in free agency, seeming to signal a move toward more fiscal responsibility. But Prokhorov said he’s still willing to spend, though wants a balance between veterans and younger players.
Kidd spent one season as Brooklyn coach before the Nets let him leave to coach the Milwaukee Bucks after he sought more power within the organization.
Asked why the Nets agreed to trade Kidd to the Bucks, Prokhorov said: “There is a nice proverb in English. Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord has split you.”
“I think we shouldn’t get mad, I think we should get even and we’ll see it on the court,” Prokhorov added.
Prokhorov only spoke to Nets reporters once last season, when the team played a game in London in January. He said he plans to attend about 25 percent of their home games, though a team official said she wasn’t sure yet if he would remain for their weeklong homestand that includes a game against the rival New York Knicks on Friday.
“I think our structure is optimal,” Prokhorov said. “We have a very strong experienced coach and a very strong GM Billy King.”
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