Skip to main content

After Prokhorov appearance and another loss, Nets part of different "conversation"

Well, the night after team owner Mikhail Prokhorov met the press (video, transcript, letter to fans) and pledged to do better, the Brooklyn Nets played the anti-Nets, the well-constructed San Antonio Spurs, and, as the New York Post put it, lost badly: Nets’ interim coach’s job begins with miserable thud.

The Nets do have a strategy of sorts: find a new coach and GM, and rebuild, using the same new cap space every team has, dropping Joe Johnson's albatross contract, and adding the lure of New York, a new arena, and a new practice facility. But that's relatively small beer, and lots of analysts are skeptical.

For me, it's been hard not to look at the various promotions ("Hello Brooklyn," "We Are Brooklyn," "Represent Brooklyn," etc.), without increasing cynicism about the Nets' attempt to commodify their home borough. Perhaps the dramatically changing cast of coaches, executives, and players will remind people that this is a (publicly subsidized) sports entertainment business, not a civic utility.

SBNation's Tom Ziller offered the summary, with a chart, Mikhail Prokhorov's absurd expectations doomed the Nets:
Prokhorov demanded instant results. [GM Billy] King did everything he could to deliver that. So it goes. The price of failure was steep, and the bill will continually come due through 2018. King botched the [Gerald] Wallace deal completely -- we knew immediately that was a recipe for heartache -- and the trade with the Celtics will have its own wing in the Hall Of S--t You Should Never Do as An NBA GM. The [Deron] Williams trade was and is fully defensible. Most teams without a top point would have taken that bet, and the Johnson deal didn't end up costing Brooklyn much. But those other two deals doomed the Nets for the foreseeable future.

New York's Joe DeLessio, in With Nets in Turmoil, Mikhail Prokhorov Has Become the Worst Version of George Steinbrenner, wrote:
Prokhorov didn’t sound like a completely changed man, though. He said he didn’t want to rush things when filling these key personnel positions, but then also said, “I’m sure, for the next season, we’ll be, I hope, a championship contender.” Old mentalities, it seems, die hard.
Bleacher Report's Howard Beck (former NY Times) wrote skeptically, Despite Changes, Nets Won't Move Forward Until They Admit Failures of Past:
Alas, audacity is no substitute for a winning plan. And as Prokhorov met the media again Monday morning—24 hours after firing his coach and his general manager, with the Nets mired in the muck—he still had no concrete plan to offer.
"I think that I want us to have firmer, a much firmer blueprint of what kind of players we're looking for," Prokhorov said.
Blueprint. There was that word again.
He also said "championship"—seven times in 20 minutes—audacious even amid crisis.
Under the circumstances, it rang hollow, as empty as those thousands of black seats lining the Barclays Center... With no elite talent on the roster and no first-round draft picks of their own until 2019, they are arguably the most hopeless team in the league.
Beck suggested that the Nets--who are covered regularly by only two of five daily papers--cash out by trading their two most marketable players, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, for draft picks.

Deadspin didn't buy Prokhorov's claims:
“You know my business approach. I try to invite the best people I can find in the market, and give them some amount of time to make decisions. I don’t interfere in the day-to-day routine. But after some amount of time, I have to look at the reality and make a change if things are not going in the right direction. That’s what we have done. It was just very easy. And of course, if we look for the team for the time being, it’s clear that we’re doing not the best way.” 
If this is indeed Prokhorov’s business approach, he certainly didn’t implement it in Brooklyn. Billy King isn’t a particularly accomplished general manager, and nobody would confuse Avery Johnson or Lionel Hollins for elite coaches. The aforementioned true power in the front office has no previous basketball experience. And the only inspired hiring, of the then-just retired Jason Kidd as coach, blew up when Kidd left after just one year.
The Wall Street Journal suggested Nets Aren’t the NBA’s Worst Team—But They Soon May Be:
Two teams have a worse record than the Nets this season, though those franchises have more favorable draft prospects. The 76ers, who have the NBA’s worst mark, could own as many as four first-round draft picks this year. The Lakers, owners of the NBA’s second-worst record, have also mortgaged future assets, but will at least retain their pick this year if it lands in the top three. (If it doesn’t, it heads to Philadelphia.)
But Hardwood Paroxysm suggested Eh, the Brooklyn Nets are gonna be fine:
The Nets aren’t going to be a contender for quite a while. Probably not a playoff team, either. But where they’re at now doesn’t equate to ten years of darkness where basketball apathy roams uncontrollably, haunting the… whatever.
Arena/team CEO Brett Yormark, according to the Record, remains optimistic, though he admits, using one of his benchmarks, that the Nets have regressed:
“Now we just need to reset some things on the player/personnel side that creates the right culture, the right identity, the right leadership,” Yormark said. “And I think we get there. And I think we become part of the conversation relatively quickly again and then we can move forward.”
And maybe it's time to distrust nostalgia, writes Filip Bondy for the Times, in an article headlined online as  Two Teams in Search of Sports-Obsessed Brooklyn and in print as "Hardly a Sports Hotbed Now, if It Ever Was." Bondy points to the decline--in final years--of Dodgers attendance (here are stats) and wonders:
So there is hope. If nothing else, Brooklyn is resilient, resourceful, ever-changing. As one neighborhood is gentrified, another welcomes a fresh batch of struggling settlers.
Does Brooklyn have the passion, the population and the demographics to marry a professional franchise? Did it ever? We may not know that answer until the Nets find a point guard, or Tavares beats the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals.
Then, those mythical Brooklyn fans better show up, create a fresh narrative. Otherwise, Walter O’Malley was right.
He also throws Brett Yormark a valentine:
The troubles are not for a lack of trying on management’s part. Brett Yormark, chief executive of the Nets and Barclays Center, has targeted disparate communities in the borough. He has launched promotions and community outreach programs. Pat Singer, founder and executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood Association, recently received a batch of discount tickets to distribute for the Islanders games.
“I think it’s going to build,” Singer said. “There’s something about a hometown team.”
Oh, come now. Depends on the discounts, and whether those low-price tickets are obstructed views. Remember, the advent of Russian-born Andrei Kirilenko with the Nets was supposed to spark a boom in Russian fandom.


Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…