Owner Mikhail Prokhorov doesn't divulge Nets' GM preference

ByMike Mazzeo and Marc Stein ESPN logo
Saturday, February 20, 2016

NEW YORK -- There is growing concern within the Brooklyn Nets organization that they will be unable to lure their preferred general manager candidate, Sean Marks, from the San Antonio Spurs, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets are well aware Marks is wrestling mightily with the decision after emerging as the team's top choice. Sources said Wednesday that the Spurs remained hopeful of convincing him to stay put.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov told reporters Wednesday that, contrary to one published report, he had not yet offered the job to Marks and that he would need another week to choose from among three finalists for the position: Marks, Denver Nuggets executive Arturas Karnisovas and two-time NBA Executive of the Year Bryan Colangelo.

"I've never heard this name before," Prokhorov said Wednesday of Marks, apparently trying to deflect questions about the GM search with humor.

Marks is the assistant GM under the Spurs' highly regarded GM R.C. Buford and is well-liked throughout the league after an 11-season career as a player before moving into management.

"What I can say is, we will have no trouble finding two terrific guys [a GM and a coach] to join our team," Prokhorov said at a news conference to unveil the team's lavish $50 million waterfront practice facility in Brooklyn. "But for the time being, no decision has been made, and I think I need maybe one week more [to finish the search process].

"We have a short list, and I'm here for the decision-making," he said, confirming he plans to remain in the United States until the search process has concluded.

Asked if he would need to interview other GM candidates, Prokhorov replied, "That's top secret."

Prokhorov, meanwhile, described Brooklyn's approach to Thursday's trade deadline as "passive."

"If we have some small, good pieces, maybe we can do something," Prokhorov said. "But we are (being) very passive because we're not in a hurry. We have a long-term vision."

Prokhorov, who failed to live up to his original promise to deliver a championship to Brooklyn within his first five years as Nets owner, was also asked Wednesday to pinpoint his biggest mistake during that time.

"My passion [is] to be a champion as fast as possible," he said. "I mean, you know I deserve championship much more than maybe anyone in Brooklyn. But maybe if [there was] one big mistake we [made] it was a lack of strategy.

"What we need is to have GM, the coach and the team on the same page so we can develop a strategy. There are a lot of good players, but for them it's really not easy to play in New York. It's a real beast. You need to be tough, and you need to have a passion to be in Brooklyn."

In his most recent previous public appearance, Prokhorov had said that the Nets would only need "a small reset." The Nets, who don't have total control over their own first-round pick until 2019 after trading several away, will have around $40 million in cap space this summer, but at 14-40, they don't appear to be just one or two players away from championship contention, as Prokhorov has suggested.

"We are playing in a very interesting, competitive league," Prokhorov said. "I'll do my best in [fulfilling] our vision to make us a championship contender as fast as possible."

Asked about former GM Billy King, who was reassigned within the organization on Jan. 10, Prokhorov replied: "I think that Billy ... he is trusted friend to this team. But for the time being, for the procedure of [hiring] the GM and the head coach, he has no any kind of involvement."

Prokhorov addressed reporters Wednesday from Brooklyn's new training facility. Located atop a warehouse, it features stunning views of downtown Manhattan and has several amenities, including two hydro pools, an 18-seat theater, a rooftop entertainment space and arcade-style video games for the players to enjoy.

"At last the Nets are completely integrated into Brooklyn," Prokhorov said. "Our arena, our offices and now the HSS Training Center are all part of this great borough, including its vibrant Sunset Park community. Team training and player development are essential parts of our team's core values and we look forward to building a winning culture on this stunning foundation."

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