Mr. Prokhorov: Please Step Up!

Mr. Prokhorov: Please Step Up!

By: NBASCOUT / Special to

Management spared former Coach Lawrence Frank the indignity of a potential record-tying or record-setting winless streak on his resume to open a season by relieving him of his duties Sunday afternoon, but the Lakers still disposed of the New Jersey Nets in short order last night, 106-87, with Assistant coach Tom Barrise on the bench. The winless New Jersey Nets are where they\’re at, facing a dismal season if they don\’t turn it around in a hurry, because a number of things remain unsettled: Ownership, management and the coaching staff.*

In essence, the organization is in limbo while the transistion to new ownership snails along and many of the players, some in their contract years, have no incentive to play for a team in transition when so much is up in the air. Players favor a stable situation.

It is easier to play for someone when you know they\’ll be there tomorrow. Right now, Nets players don\’t know who their coach will be or whether the management that brought them aboard will stay.

That responsibility falls squarely to no other than the new, \”prospective owner.\” This is a term Mikhail Prokhorov prefers that others use when referring to him until he is formally approved by the league (possibly by late December) and/or the transaction closing date (anticipated to be some time during the first quarter of 2010 or thereabouts).

In order for the Nets to start winning, the players need to know who is in charge and who their coach will be for the duration. Forget about the fact that they are highly-paid professionals.

Compounding things is the rumor that the new, \”prospective owner,\” may wish to bring in his own coaching staff, or, perhaps, management at some point. If that is the case, he should do it ASAP – unless he thinks he can lure Phil Jackson, LeBron James and Chris Bosh after this season runs its course. If not, he should extend President Rod Thorn and GM Kiki Vandeweghe and defer to their judgement regarding suitable replacements for the head coaching position on a permanent basis along with any other staff changes they deem appropriate.

The unsettled situation is what is making the players feel skittish about playing up to their capabilities. It is why it is imperative that Mr. Prokhorov step up to the plate now and indicate his preference for the coaching staff at this juncture.

The lame duck owner and his management can bring aboard new coaching personnel pending the closing of the transaction. By casting a vote of confidence in favor of existing management and deferring to them and letting them select the long-term solution now – not later – it tends to work in the team\’s best interest if they are about winning now.

Except for favorable draft position, it is probably better that the Nets move on now with the future rather than putting it off to the end of a lost season. [The Jax, LBJ and Bosh to NJN scenario being the only exception]. It will take some time to get the team on the same page so that they don\’t resemble a pickup team.

It should be noted that an interim solution won\’t really be fair to the fans or in the best interests of the team unless they bring aboard someone who can jump-start the existing talent with a possibility of staying on as a permanent solution. Former Dalls Head Coach Avery Johnson comes to mind because of his familiarity with PG Devin Harris and would probably be my first choice for an interim coach if that had to be. Former Nets Assistant Brian Hill, Orlando Assistant Patrick Ewing and/or Coach Del Harris would be others who might fill the role with a possibility of staying on if they do a good job.

Whatever the case, the Nets should settle the coaching situation right away, except as indicated in an ideal scenario. Mr. Prokhorov, If a European coach is in the cards, bring him aboard now. Tell Mr. Ratner what you want!

UPDATE: At this reading, the Nets are considering the \”Kiki Option.\” That entails GM Kiki Vandeweghe consenting to assume the head coaching duties along with a former head coach to sit behind him on the bench as his right hand and Assistant Head Coach that\’d work for scale. The names of Del Harris or P.J. Carlesimo have been bandied about.

While it\’s always safer in management, I like this idea and would favor Kiki assuming double duty as the head coach and GM and bringing aboard a seasoned former head coach as an assistant. The team would be exciting on offense and competent on defense.

I wonder if Avery Johnson would work for scale as Kiki\’s right hand? I\’m not sure that Devin would be thrilled, but he may return to his winning play because of it! Of course, Kiki has to pick someone that he\’s comfortable with as his right hand.

NBASCOUT is an independent freelance sportswriter that covers the NBA and the New Jersey Nets. He is not affiliated with the National Basketball Association. Copyright 2009 by NBASCOUT, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the express written consent of the author. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily this website. You may e-mail NBASCOUT in care-of his wife, who writes for children, at

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