Mikhail Prokhorov Says One Thing, Nets Do the Opposite

Former Sixers G.M. latest curious move in Prokhorov's first summer as owner

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is photographed at his home on February 18, 2009 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mikhail Prokhorov

    There's no doubt that the addition of Mikhail Prokhorov to the roll call of team owners makes the American sports landscape a more interesting one. We're starting to have some second thoughts about how much he means any of the things he says, however.

    Case in point is an interview that Prokhorov gave to Nets Daily on Monday while he was flitting through the sky on his Gulfstream. The first question had to do with the departure of team president and general manager Rod Thorn and the search for a replacement who would help the Nets fulfill Prokhorov's promise of a championship within five years. The owner professed to be in no rush to hire a new man because, as a new owner, "I need to touch and smell everything myself and this takes some time."

    Fast forward to Wednesday when the Nets announced that former Sixers G.M. Billy King would be joining the team and assuming Thorn's duties. Maybe rush translates differently in Russian?

    His job title is general manager so Prokhorov may still be taking his time to find a president but that would appear to be, in one form or another, a semantic distinction that won't make much difference if King proves to be the same guy who ran the Sixers into the ground after Larry Brown left the team. The team ran through numerous coaches, spent barrels of money on mediocre players and generally resembled the Isiah Thomas Knicks without the same media spotlight.

    With former Trail Blazers executive Kevin Pritchard looking for work, it is odd to see the Nets pounce on a guy with a track record that doesn't measure up to the work Pritchard did in Portland. Maybe this is just a transitional move designed to give Prokhorov more time to find his ideal candidate, a notion that fits with the personnel additions the team has made in the last week.

    Interesting way to start a five-year plan, especially since Thorn pulled a quasi-"Brewster's Millions" on his way out the door. The challenge here was to spend as much money as possible on players who won't wind up making a big difference in terms of vaulting the Nets into the pantheon of championship contenders. The team has signed backup point guard Jordan Farmar, backup forward Travis Outlaw, backup shooting guard Anthony Morrow and backup center Johan Petro to a team that's still shy a couple of starting forwards unless Derrick Favors starts from day one.

    None of these guys, save Petro, is a particularly bad player and all of them combined don't do any significant damage to cap space but it is hard to see exactly how they fit into the idea of building toward a championship team. That's better than blowing money on crummy players, something that King is now around to take care of, but they aren't needle moving moves for a team that really needed to make some this offseason.

    We get it, Rome wasn't built in a day but they didn't start construction by putting up deer crossing signs. If Prokhorov doesn't feel ready to make any splashy moves, that's understandable. It doesn't explain making moves for the sake of moves though.

    That doesn't mean Nets games aren't going to be more fun this season. Here's Prokhorov on what the team's got planned to keep fans entertained when they head out to Newark:

    "We’re looking at hiring the Red Army choir to perform at half-time along with Russia’s top dancing bear collective.  Not to mention the Russian spies recently sent back to Moscow. We will be organizing their comeback tour to Newark.   I’m sure it will be a great hit."

    He's certainly kidding about the spies and probably kidding about the dancing bears although let's all keep our fingers crossed. There's no faster way to the top in the NBA than threatening your opposition with bear attacks unless they let you win.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.