Giant teams winning championships seems to be a law that every team has fetishized over the years. It just so happens that one such team has formed three giant teams since the turn of the millennium, with the first two ending in disastrous failures and the third almost coming to an end this summer. Instead of discussing the love-hate relationship between Joe Tsai and Kevin Durant, today we’ll discuss the last Russian owner who was even crazier about collecting veterans – Mikhail Prokhorov
After the Nets traded Vince Carter, one of the first generation of the Big Three, in the summer of 2009, the team established Brook Lopez, a senior center drafted in the 10th round the year before, as the centerpiece of the team, and he lived up to expectations by playing full time in 09-10, posting 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. While that may seem average by the standards of a team’s first man, it’s still not bad for the still-sophomore. After the sale of leading scorer Vince Carter, the team’s play has avalanched. The 18 consecutive losses to open the season set the worst start to a season in NBA history, and ended up with only 12 wins and 70 losses, not only the worst record in Bucks history, but also the fifth team in history to lose 70 games in a single season.
The choises of Mikhail Prokhorov
On May 12, 2010, the NBA officially announced that the acquisition of the Nets by Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov had been approved, and also made the bold statement that he would get married if the Nets did not win a championship within five years. The team’s general manager has also been replaced by Billy King, and the previous year’s league furnace owners of the New Jersey Nets have completely changed their generation. The Nets got the third overall pick in the ’09-’10 season and drafted another big man, Derrick Favors, but after owner Prokhorov gave instructions to win the title as quickly as possible, he was quickly traded in midseason for Deron Williams, who forced out Pope Jerry Sloan. However, Brook Lopez, who had been a full-timer for the previous three years, injured his fifth metatarsal in the preseason and played in only five games that season. Two years have passed since the army was formed, and although there are still only a miserable 22 wins and 44 losses, the three cores of the team will be back in Brooklyn next year, and no one dares to underestimate this team.
In the summer of 2012, Mikhail Prokhorov, who has taken over the team for two years, could not resist his desire to win the championship and brought in star wing “ISO Joe” Joe Johnson in another trade for the cost of Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and DeShawn Stevenson. Jordan Williams and DeShawn Stevenson, not a big deal at all. But with a vow to win a championship in five years, it’s hard to even make the playoffs halfway through the season, so Mikhail Prokhorov started the Nets’ “Great Leap Forward” plan. Head coach Avery Johnson, who opened the season with only 14 wins and 14 losses and a 50 percent winning percentage, was the first to be fired, followed by P.J. Carlesimo, who worked diligently to return the team to the playoffs by finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference, only to lose 3-4 to the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
Mikhail Prokhorov is clearly one of those guys. The first few big additions didn’t hurt, this trade not only replaces veterans who can play hardball, but also gets rid of Gerald Wallace, who still has a three-year, multi-million dollar deal, and loses even more for the future – first-round signings in 2014, 2016, 2018 and first-round swap rights in 2017, and that’s without even mentioning The two signings in 2016 and 2017 cashed in as the wing duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who were even closer to the O’Brien Gold Cup than the Bucks, who had already reshuffled again. With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett having aged out the previous year, such a shuttle is really a no-win situation.
In the 2013-14 season, the Nets have formed a Big Five with a recently retired Jason Kidd, and for the younger fans, although Kidd is performing like a military god this year, he was actually quite a rookie at the beginning of his coaching career, and he also engaged in infighting, and it took a few years of assistant coaching to get to where he is this year. (But Nash, needless to say, does not have to rely on the relationship of infighting, uh …) The vaunted Nets’ record has gone backwards instead of forwards, and they only made the playoffs by finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference. In the first round, Paul Pierce gave Kyle Lowry a goodbye fondue pot and probably another round trip, and in the second round, they ran into LCD, which is chasing a three-game winning streak, and naturally, they will be on summer vacation soon. Although it is the Big Five, but the core of the interior Brook Lopez played only 17 games in the whole season, so there is a gap in power, but the fact is that with or without him, there is still no way for any team to threaten LeBron James Eastern Conference supremacy. Paul Pierce left for Washington that summer and Jason Kidd was fired.
The four years
Four years later, the Brooklyn Nets still haven’t broken out of the Eastern Conference, and the team is still paying luxury taxes on a number of expensive veterans. Mikhail Prokhorov also saw the reality that building a solid team culture is the long-term solution to running a team. The team also officially entered a rebuilding process by replacing Billy King with current head coach Sean Marks in the middle of the 15-16 season. The biggest reason for this reorganization is the management’s poor thinking. First of all, Mikhail Prokhorov wanted to win the championship too quickly and did not consider the long-term development of the team, trading a large number of draft picks to Celtik for three veterans who were already on the downside. If Deron Williams hadn’t been held back by his ankle, the record might have been a little better, but that still doesn’t change the lack of opportunity to hone potential rookies and the use of rookie bonuses. The management’s short-sightedness and short-termism is what sent the Bucks into the abyss later on.
In the next few seasons, the Bucks entered a dark period with several attempts to use toxic contracts to grab RFAs, but they never worked out. And the free agency part, because there is little team competitiveness, the biggest signing may only be the 3-year, $36 million signing of Jeremy Lin, but in the summer of 2016 after a definite rebuild, the Bucks identified the Sean Marks-Kenny Atkinson uniform group combination, which is also Mikhail Prokhorov after learning his lesson the first step in establishing the team’s system. In 17-18, the Bucks helped the Lakers swallow Timofy Mozgov’s big deal while sending away self-selected star center Brook Lopez in exchange for new-era leader D’Angelo Russell.
In the third season of a definitive rebuild, D’Angelo Russell finally broke out of his cocoon in 18-19, and the Bucks returned to the playoffs with the sixth-best team in the East. Instead of a star-studded roster, the fledgling Bucks relied on a stable system (Sean Marks-Kenny Atkinson), late-season down-and-outs (Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert), development league Taobao (Spencer Dinwiddie), and overpaid castoffs that no one else wanted (Kenneth Faried, DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe). After a not-so-rich but sweet harvest, Mikhail Prokhorov sold his remaining holdings to new owner Joe Tsai in the summer of 2019.