Simmons latest column is about Mikhail Prokhorov, the 6'7" Russian owner of the Nets. It's a fun read, link here.
Simmons likes the guy, says a lot of good things about him. He calls Prokhorov "Mutant Russian Mark Cuban" or MRMC for short. Here are a couple of quotes, and then my comments after:
"MRMC on his vision for the Nets: "[We'll] be the first really global team in the NBA. For me, being the first foreign owner, I want to do my best to invite all the fans for the team all over the world. I think the NBA is worldwide. But other teams [possess a] more local mentality. We are going to create and to build a global franchise to sell all around the world. I think I have a competitive advantage compared to other owners.""
Another quote, with Simmons predictions:
"For the first season, I see MRMC making two or three much-ballyhooed in-season trips -- maybe a week per pop, during which he catches a few home games, works the media, gets a few standing O's at games, then heads back to Russia -- and every time he gives an interview, he will push the whole "we're turning the Nets into a global team" mantra. Like this week, when he said, "I think the great metropolitan [area] of New York is a great place for the players. You are part of the global world. If you [want a] good climate, you can play in Miami, but you are not a global player -- even if you have a flat on Fisher Island."
Still, allow me two making-a-splash predictions for this summer. The first: MRMC pounces on Phil Jackson with an absolutely unfathomable offer. How unfathomable? Five years, $85 million. Yeah. That's what I mean. Prokhorov is already on record as saying that he wants an NBA coach. Why not overpay to get one of the greatest ever? How could the Lakers possibly come close to matching that commitment? And why would Jackson say no to finishing his career in the New York area for the most lucrative coaching deal ever, BY FAR? I say the Godfather offer gets made, and I say Jackson takes it.
Second, instead of chewing up Jersey's cap space with overpaid free agents, I bet Prokhorov trades for Andrei Kirilenko -- his former CSKA star, as well as an expiring 2011 contract of $17.82 million -- in a deal that won't cost Jersey anything because Utah (struggling to find money for Carlos Boozer) could easily replace Kirilenko with its lottery pick (No. 8 overall) and a second trade. For the Nets, even if they just rented Kirilenko and picked Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors (the draft's best power forward) at No. 3, that's an intriguing short-term front line (Favors, Kirilenko and Brook Lopez) and they'd maintain flexibility for a run at Carmelo in 2011 and/or have Kirilenko's expiring deal to shop this February. And it would go over big back home for Prokhorov. Win, win and win."
It is clear that Prokhorov (or Mike, as he introduced himself to NBA owners), wants the Nets to be a global team. I think the Wolves have two assets he would really like -- Rubio and Pekovic. Maybe we can use those assets to further our team goals, or maybe not. I'll bet that Mike sould take #4 and Pek for #3 however. But maybe that's too much. Simmons thinks that Mike wants either Favors or Cousins with his #3 pick.
As I've posted before (and I'll say again), I think the Wiz might take Cousins, which would upset things nicely. The Sixers, with Iggy, would then take Wall or Favors, and we could then talk to the Nets about what to do next.
Prokhorov clearly has a different idea about internationalizing the NBA, and I'll bet Stern supports him.
It's a great article, given our international assets. And Mike's wealth -- Simmons does a great job of talking about how Mike got so rich, too, and about how he loves women and food and ski-dooing and so forth. A great read...