Exclusive: Nets Owner Prokhorov Talks Carmelo Anthony
From his hotel suite in Beverly Hills, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was playing coy on Sunday afternoon when asked what exactly happened in his short meeting with Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony yesterday.
"It was a fantastic meeting, trust me," Prokhorov said, smiling. "No words, live music, excellent atmosphere. We looked into each other's eyes. Just real man talk."
Earlier this week, the Nets reached a tentative deal that would send Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh, and four first-round picks to the Nuggets for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams and Melvin Ely. Anthony would then have to be willing to sign a three-year, $65 million extension for the trade to be made.
Prokhorov maintained that he has not wavered on his thoughts from a month ago that the team shouldn't be so eager to do a deal with Anthony. He insists he had no plans to meet with Anthony as of yesterday morning, but things changed.
"As you know, my instinct was to stay away and I still think that is (the) right decision," said Prokhorov, in a wide-ranging interview which will air on CNBC on Tuesday. "But when the meeting was fixed, (Nets GM) Billy King called me and said, 'We need you.' I was convinced and I still think I'm right to stay away, but we have teamwork so sometimes we need to be all together."
The stakes are higher for Prokhorov and the Nets because part of his business could be affected when he moves the team to Brooklyn. If Anthony goes to the New York Knicks, and it turns out to be a good deal, Prokhorov's loss could be Knicks owner James Dolan's gain.
It has turned into quite a ownership rivalry in the nine months Prokhorov has owned the Nets. The biggest manifestation of the attention duel was the giant Nets billboard opposite Dolan's own office with the words "Blueprint For Greatness" and pictures of Prokhorov and Jay-Z. Dolan then put a billboard over the Nets' arena construction site in Brooklyn.
The Knicks deal for Anthony includes giving up Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler to bring Anthony, Billups, Williams and Anthony Carter to Madison Square Garden. Sources told Newsday that the Knicks decided on Sunday that they would not go any further with their offer.
"I think we made a very good tactical decision to force (the) Knicks to pay as much as they can," Prokhorov said. "So it's very good, it's very interesting, it's very competitive."
As for the pressure on Anthony to make the right decision?
"Carmelo is in a difficult situation," Prokhorov said. "For him, maybe it's the most important decision of his life."
Is the pressure getting to Prokhorov? Probably not. He's going heliskiing in Canada tomorrow.
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com