x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Owner Prokhorov’s aim at Brooklyn is to Net results now

The Nets have never done much, but their rebirth as Brooklyn's team, their Russian billionaire owner, the hiring of their former franchise star Jason Kidd as coach and the addition of maybe-not-quite-over-the-hill stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce makes them the most interesting team in the NBA.

Kevin Garnett is part of the veteran movement initiated at the Brooklyn Nets by owner Mikhail Prokhorov to deliver an NBA title as soon as possible. Jason Miller / AFP
Kevin Garnett is part of the veteran movement initiated at the Brooklyn Nets by owner Mikhail Prokhorov to deliver an NBA title as soon as possible. Jason Miller / AFP

They are the most interesting team in the NBA.

The Brooklyn Nets could be really, really good this season, a team of veteran All-Stars primed for one last hurrah.

Or they could be really, really bad, a mismatched collection of yesterday’s men more concerned with injuries than the opposition.

They have a rookie coach, Jason Kidd, who last year was a player and never before has been so much as an assistant. Kidd missed the first two games because of a league suspension after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol.

They have a billionaire Russian owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, who has the biggest payroll in the NBA, and by some estimates will pay more in league luxury taxes – US$80 million (Dh293.8m) – than the entire payroll of every other team aside from the Miami Heat.

But Prokhorov has made his intention clear. He is after a championship, regardless of the cost.

“I don’t go halfway on anything,” Prokhorov said.

“I always go all the way.”

The Nets roster has been almost completely remade.

Brook Lopez, the centre, is the only holdover from the team that started the 2010/11 season, the year after the Nets were 12-70.

The big move this summer came when Prokhorov signed off on a trade with the Boston Celtics to land Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

Last season he added Joe Johnson, and in the middle of the previous season he traded for the point guard Deron Williams.

Now the Nets’ line-up of Garnett, Pierce, Lopez, Johnson and Williams is the first in NBA history with every player earning more than $10m per season.

They have 35 All-Star appearances among them. The Nets also signed the Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko, who gives the team depth, along with Reggie Evans and Terry.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the former Lakers star, tweeted: “The Brooklyn Nets probably have the most talent and could possibly win the NBA championship.”

They looked like a team capable of that when they beat the champions Miami Heat on Friday, but like something much less in losing to the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

They will take their progress where they can. They had lost 13 consecutive games to the Heat.

“What they’ve done up until this point, up until this year, it doesn’t really matter,” Garnett said of the Nets’ unimpressive past. “That’s history. I think we showed growth. We’ve got to grow from someplace … We’re obviously trying to set a new creed here, a new culture.”

Garnett, however, is 37 years old.

Pierce and Terry are 36, and Johnson is 32.

A new culture is the plan, but it will be carried out by old bodies.

Their health could determine how interesting they are six months from now.

sports@thenational.ae

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