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Nets Use Deron Williams Billboard to Promote Brooklyn Move

Let me start out by saying I’m all for the New Jersey Nets moving to Brooklyn.  Their new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, certainly has tried to give fans the impression he means business and being right in New York should only improve the team’s fan base.  Mark Cuban may disagree, but Prokhorov at least deserves a a shot at turning the franchise around.  However, he has yet to assemble the pieces needed to pull that off.

The Deron Williams billboard above is an unfriendly reminder that the Nets need a superstar.  Don’t get me wrong — Deron Williams is a great player.  He’s an All-Star caliber point guard, but is he a superstar?  Not really.  Something like “LeBron James and the Nets bound for Brooklyn,” or “Carmelo Anthony and the Nets bound for Brooklyn,” would have looked and sounded much better on a billboard.  The Nets are working with what they have, but the billboard should serve as a strong indication that they don’t yet have enough.

Avery Johnson Happy Nets Did Not Trade for Carmelo Anthony

Before ultimately being traded to the New York Knicks last month, media reports had Carmelo Anthony traded to New Jersey about a half dozen times. We had a report of a trade in September, January, and February, but Melo wound up with the Knicks, not the Nets.

Now, a month after missing out on the forward, Nets coach Avery Johnson says the team is better off not having pulled the trigger on the trade.

Speaking at New Jersey’s practice Wednesday, Johnson reflected on the status his team. “Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make,” Johnson said. “And that prospective trade that was reported where we were going to supposedly lose basically eight players, man that would have really gutted our team. So we’re glad that that didn’t happen.”

Of course he’s happy! The Nets had won five in a row when he made the comment, so he feels like they’ve improved. And by acquiring Deron Williams, maybe they did get a deal that improves their team more than the Melo trade would have. But I have two reasons Avery should be cautious. One, New Jersey only beat one good team during their streak (Boston), so it’s not like they’re gods. Two, I still bet Deron Williams leaves them in 2012 — they just don’t have enough on the team to keep him around.

Still, Avery may be right — the team could very well be better off with the Williams trade than they would have with Melo.

Carmelo Anthony Nets Trade Includes Derrick Favors, Four First-Round Picks

Mikhail Prokhorov could be the world’s biggest Carmelo Anthony fan.  We all know the Nets need to make some sort of huge splash in order to become a contender, but is it worth wagering their entire future for one player?  Anthony may be one of the NBA’s best players, but who could blame the Nuggets for trading him away with what New Jersey is offering?

In order for the trade to be finalized Anthony must agree on the three-year, $65 million extension the Nets are offering.  Reports have surfaced stating that Anthony and Prokhorov are scheduled to meet during All-Star Weekend, but Carmelo said there is “no meeting at all” and talk of one is “news to (him).”  Of course, it would be foolish to rule out the Knicks regardless of how far along the talks are between New Jersey and Denver.

If the deal goes through, here is a look at what each team would get:

Nets get: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Melvin Ely, and Renaldo Balkman
Nuggets get: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh, and four first-round picks.

Man, that’s a ton of first round picks.  The Nuggets would lose two of their best players but they would also have an infinite amount of resources to use toward rebuilding.  Two first round picks every season for four years can yield plenty of talent.  Favors may not have worked out as planned just yet, but he was a third overall pick for a reason.  Harris is known to score points in bunches.  Anthony is the definition of a franchise player, but I’m just not sure any player is worth that type of king’s ransom — especially one who takes his hat off to himself and rocks shades during interviews like a clown.

Mikhail Prokhorov Is New Jersey Nets’ Good Luck Charm

The New Jersey Nets are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, checking in with a 12-31 record on the year. Team owner Mikhail Prokhorov recently went public to say the team was no longer focusing on acquiring Carmelo Anthony, feeling like the talks were distractions. Maybe the guy was right. Or maybe his mere physical, imposing presence scares his team into playing harder.

The Nets beat the Pistons at home Friday night 89-74 for just their 12th win. The Pierogi stuck around following his media conference to watch his boys play for the second straight game, and they showed their boss what they can do once again. New Jersey has now won two in a row, and as I learned from the Newark Star-Ledger, improved to 5-1 in home games attended by The Pierogi.

Most teams play well at home so it’s natural that Pierogi’s record would be better than the team’s, but 5-1 is still impressive. And if they can manage a win over the Mavericks Saturday evening, the X-ray machines at the airport will no doubt find a horseshoe up his butt before he flies home to Russia.

Carmelo Anthony at the Center of 17-Player Trade Talks, Nets Going All in

The New Jersey Nets’ interest in working out a deal with the Denver Nuggets for superstar forward Carmelo Anthony is old news, but The New York Post is now reporting that the deal could include up to 17 players plus an undisclosed quantity of draft picks. The deal would also include the Detroit Pistons and would involve the largest number of players in any deal in NBA history.

The previous record was 13, but that trade involved five teams — the Heat, Grizzlies, Hornets, Celtics and Jazz — in 2005. The centerpiece of that deal was Antoine Walker, who went from Boston to Miami. Walker played only three more seasons in the NBA, averaging 9.5 points per game over that span. He’s currently in the NBA’s D-League and doesn’t seem to be having an easy go at it.

The question that remains unanswered is why is any team other than the Knicks willing to give up young talent and future draft picks for Anthony when it’s well-documented that he wants to play in New York? Carmelo has a three-year $65 million offer on the table from the Nuggets, but refuses to sign it. The Nets are reportedly willing to give up Devin Harris and Derrick Favors — two young and extremely talented players.

New Jersey isn’t going to compete for anything this year even with Anthony, and if he leaves after this season they would be left with basically nothing. The Nets are reportedly trying to prevent the Knicks from getting Anthony, though I’m not sure why. This isn’t a Red Sox-Yankees or Celtics-Lakers type rivalry. It’s not a rivalry at all. The Nets are horrible and the Knicks are middle-of-the-pack in the East. The trade doesn’t make any sense for New Jersey.  They should keep their players and draft picks and prepare for the long-term, because it’s doubful Carmelo Anthony will be a part of it regardless.

Jay-Z Not As Confident in Nets Future as Mikhail Prokhorov

Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov both own a stake in the New Jersey Nets.  They share a title of owner, but they may not share a level of confidence in the team’s immediate future.  I say that because Jay-Z had some interesting comments about whether or not he is recruiting LeBron James to sign with the Nets.  When asked about Knicks president Donnie Walsh’s plan to get as many people as possible to recruit King James to Madison Square Garden as a home next season — including Yankees players — Derek Jeter expressed that he sees no point in doing that.

Although he obviously isn’t going to try and convince James to sign with the Knicks, Jay-Z said that he wasn’t going to try very hard to persuade him to sign with the Nets either.  Here’s what Jay-Z said about recruiting LeBron James in a recent Rolling Stone interview:

That’s his decision. We’re friends — we’ve still gotta hang out! I don’t want to convince somebody to do something, then have to see him and say, ‘Uh, yeah, we’re 4-30 … sorry.’”

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to make a huge deal out of nothing.  I know he’s probably kidding around, and of course Jay-Z’s going to try to convince the biggest free agent name on the market (who also happens to be his close friend) to sign with the team he’s a part-owner of.  What struck me as a bit funny about the comments is how much they differ from the message Prokhorov delivered in his video to Nets fans, when he wouldn’t rule out an NBA Championship next season.  Jay-Z is most likely just playing it cool to maintain his image, and he and LeBron probably had a laugh about it.  He can say whatever he’d like, but at the end of the day we all know he cares a lot more than Kobe Bryant about where The King plays next season.

Source:
Jeter, Jay-Z not recruiting James to N.Y. [ESPN New York]

New Nets Owner Means Business

The 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets were easily one of the worst NBA teams of all time.  They finished the season a mere three losses away from matching the ’72-’73 Philadelphia 76ers for the worst season in NBA history, with a final record of 12-70.  Last week, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov — the 39th richest man in the world according to Forbes Magazinepurchased an 80 percent share of the Nets for $200 million.  Prokhorov isn’t being shy about making predictions for his new team.  Not only does he expect the Nets to make the playoffs next season — he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of bringing a championship to New Jersey right away.  Check out the video of new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov addressing Nets fans and making his predictions for the team’s future, courtesy of Staten Island Live.

I actually respect Prokhorov’s effort in making this video.  Are his predictions a bit far-fetched at this point?  Probably.  Signing LeBron James and obtaining the first overall pick in the Draft Lottery would certainly be a start.  Whether the Nets are capable of making the playoffs next season and winning an NBA title in the next five years or not, you have to applaud Prokhorov for coming out and directly addressing the fans right away instead of hiding like a lot of owners.  Many owners buy a team and then are never seen or heard from, so it takes a lot of guts to come right out and address the concerns of fans whose team only managed 10 wins.  Is it wrong that I can’t watch this video without thinking of Ivan Drago’s “I cannot be defeated, I will defeat all man” speech in Rocky IV?

Sources:
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov address fans via internet video [SILive.com]
Done Deal: Mikhail Prokhorov owns the New Jersey Nets [NJ.com]