As he stood on a bright new practice floor, before a stunning Manhattan skyline view that he hopes will help recruit players, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov still faced the chore of recruiting someone willing to become his general manager.
The official opening of the team’s lavish practice facility in the Industry City section of Brooklyn did not double as a coronation for Sean Marks, the fast-track Spurs executive who Yahoo! Sports reported was offered the job of rebuilding the foundering team. Just before Prokhorov and others, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, took the lectern Wednesday, reports surfaced that Marks was leaning toward rejecting the offer.
So, naturally Prokhorov was asked specifically about Marks during a session with reporters. He said, “I never heard this name before.” Presumably just to show he was joking, he added, “If you want, we can vote now.”
Of course, his is the vote that counts and it does not seem imminent. The Russian will remain here in the U.S. to keep talking with candidates. “For the time being,” he said, “I think I need maybe one week more.”
That fit with a theme he expressed repeatedly in speaking of personnel matters: “We’re not in a hurry.” Prokhorov implied that the Nets will not be big players at the trading deadline Thursday, saying, “We are really passive. If we have some small good pieces maybe we can do something, but we’re very passive. We’re not in a hurry. We have a long-term vision.”
Forward Thaddeus Young knows he was mentioned in many trade rumors. His wife is a social media enthusiast and she saw them a lot. “I told her, ‘OK, put the phone down,’ ” he said, adding, “I want to be here.”
Replenishing the roster will fall to someone on Prokhorov’s “short list” of GM candidates. Reports for the past week have focused on Marks as well as former Suns and Raptors executive Bryan Colangelo (who played a big part in Nets history by trading Jason Kidd to them) and Nuggets assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas. “I’m doing more listening than speaking,” the owner said. “We have respect for all the candidates.”
Whoever takes the job will be able to show off the Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center, built on the eighth floor of a vintage 1912 industrial building. As of Wednesday, it replaced a makeshift gym on a back road near the Meadowlands. Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal a world-class vista. The place has a massive weight room, underwater treadmill, barber chair, huge video-game screens and a posh lounge with a view of the Statue of Liberty.
Shooting guard Wayne Ellington, looking around before the start of practice, said, “I’ve played for a lot of teams in this league. But this is unmatched.” Prokhorov called the new facility “another player in the team for us.”
He admitted that his greatest flaw in his first five years of running the team was being too passionate, rushing too hard for a title. He has a longer view now, even as the Nets live in the shadow of a team that plays in Manhattan. Said Prokhorov: “I’ve never heard about this team.”
Notes & quotes: Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said the D-League Long Island Nets will practice at the Brooklyn facility next year, before moving to Nassau County.