The Division the Raptors call home is getting a serious makeover. The biggest part of that change is the ownership of the New Jersey Nets. If you have not heard of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov you haven't been paying attention lately. He has big money and big plans for the NBA's laughing stock the New Jersey Nets. He wants to not just make the Nets an NBA success but a global success. Both Knicks and Raptors should take note as their new rival has some serious plans. This includes a move to Brooklyn by 2013.
But he also is serious about trying to be a player for Lebron James. There have been comparisons to Mark Cuban but at least to start they don't seem valid. Prokhorov has been very tight lipped about his plans to attract the Cavs superstar. Careful not to violate NBA rules in terms of tampering. Cuban has had more NBA fines than the Celtics have titles. Prokohorov's plans seem to be clear in terms of the Nets. He wants to build them as not just a North American sports franchise, but a global sports franchise. You don't get to be a billionaire by being the same as everyone else. He has already let his G.M go and has a open spot at both coach and G.M to fill. James has been rumoured to be tied to Kentucky Coach John Calipari. Now Calipari recently claims in an ESPN article he will be back at Kentucky. You tend to take that with a grain of salt given his history. Calipari is actually a former Nets coach and did not exactly have success in his first go around in the NBA.
Regardless of if James were to seriously consider the Nets who still have Jay-Z as a minority owner is not the point. The point is from this point moving forward the Nets are going to be a major player in Free Agency and have money to burn. For teams with corporate ownership like the Knicks and Raptors this could be their worst nightmare. It will force them to spend to compete and it is clear that the bottom line for the Nets is that old business model of you have to spend money to make money. Also if successful, a move to Brooklyn may be much like if a second NHL team set up shop in Toronto area. The Knicks like the Leafs have a long history and a passionate fan base that includes celebrities like Spike Lee. What happens if the Nets come to Brooklyn and become a success? What would be the impact on the Knicks? Like the Leafs (1967) the last title for New York was a long time ago back in the 70's. Could it impact on the foothold they have on the city? Well when you look at the Rangers who took 54 years between winning Stanley Cups (1940 to 1994) it didn't hurt them. The Islanders and the Devils moved into the New York area and both had success but it did not impact on the Rangers. The Knicks who have been a franchise in the NBA from day 1 when the played the Toronto Huskies may not need to worry. Especially if they are the one that lands Lebron James. But many feel the Knicks are a long shot in the race, not as much as the Nets would be.
While in Philadelphia the Sixers had lottery luck and moved up to the second spot. That means Evan Turner will be a Sixer that is good news. But not so fast. There seems to be some suggestion that Sixers are strongly considering drafting DeMarcus Cousins behind his teammate John Wall. I love Cousins and honestly think he might deserve to be the second pick. However the majority, if not all of the draft experts disagree. Many of those being in Chicago as the combine kicked off there yesterday. Still if the Sixers were to do this, that would shake up the draft and leave Turner for the division rival Nets to select. Or perhaps move the pick and create a market for the 3rd pick. I find it hard to believe the Sixers go through with drafting Cousins, at least at number 2. This all could be just the Sixers blowing smoke to see what happens.
What is fact and not fiction in terms of the Sixers is that Doug Collins will be the coach of the Sixers. I find this move odd as well. Now Collins was a player for the Sixers and may have some love for the franchise based on that. However if it was true, that he had been offered the Chicago job not this time, but the last time the Bulls were coach shopping and turned it down. Why would you take the Sixers job now? Clearly the Bulls of a few years ago were in a better spot than the Sixers are now despite their lottery fortune. It seems pretty odd and the most painful thing of all is, does this mean more Reggie Miller on TNT? NOOOO!!!!!!
The Boston Celtics have yet to worry about all of these things and why should they as they are 6 wins away from getting another NBA Title. But after they have succeed or failed at that. The division they have owned pretty much since the big 3 came to Boston has become a much more competitive place. Clearly the Nets and Knicks are set up to improve moving forward. Much like in baseball and football the basketball version of the battle might become interesting between NYC and Boston. Even if the Knicks don't get the King they have a ton of dough to land some major players. While the Nets are starting a plan of global domination forget about the Atlantic Division.
When you turn this back to the Raptors this is cause to be afraid, when you are looking squarely in the face at saying so long to the best player you have. Not afraid? In the immortal words of Yoda..."You Will Be....You Will Be". The first impact of Mikhail Prokhorov will be felt in the Atlantic Division. He scares me more than Ivan Drago and I am not even kidding. He will break you or break his bank trying. Which is a pretty big bank to break. Lebron James wants to be a billionaire athlete. Mikhail Prokhorov doesn't have to want to be a billionaire he already is.