Nets Strike Back After Knicks Get Carmelo By Trading For Deron Williams
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov delivered "another kick to Goliath's shin" yesterday by trading for G Deron Williams just hours before the Knicks introduced Carmelo Anthony at MSG, according to Harvey Araton of the N.Y TIMES. The Nets "lost out in the Anthony sweepstakes" earlier this week to the Knicks and Owner James Dolan, and Prokhorov also "struck out last summer with his Brooklyn sales pitch for LeBron James." But "give Prokhorov credit for gambling that Williams ... will be first to discover that downtown Brooklyn is not Mineola." The Nets owner is "clearly enjoying the baiting game, tweaking his Manhattan rival" by trading for Williams soon after "gloating over forcing Dolan to effectively gut his roster to keep Anthony from the Nets" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). In Salt Lake City, Steve Luhm writes, "Not only did Prokhorov match the hoopla surrounding Tuesday’s acquisition of Anthony by neighboring New York, he demonstrated his resolve to make the Nets relevant again while sharing the league’s biggest market with the Knicks" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/24). In Newark, Steve Politi notes the Nets "traded for the best point guard in the NBA and briefly upstaged their hated rivals on the day they were introducing their own new superstar." Politi: "That, by any standard, is a pretty good day for a franchise" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/24). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes for the "first time since Prokhorov purchased his team and filled the air with promises of global dominance despite barely having area relevance, he actually has delivered substance with that bluster." The trade for Williams "has to be recognized as the signature moment of the budding Prokhorov era" (Berger RECORD, 2/24).
COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES: ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Williams is a "great player, undeniably, but he's not a superstar in this way: He's not going to help sell any tickets in New Jersey. When you trade that many people you also need some box office value, and they're not getting that." He noted the trade "may be a kneejerk reaction to what the Knicks did" in trading for Anthony. Wilbon: "The Knicks had a better deal" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/23). Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic's Ivan Carter said, "What Mikhail Prokhorov did was the best he could do after whiffing on LeBron last summer, after whiffing on Amar'e Stoudemire, after whiffing on Carmelo." But the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg said Anthony "gets more people talking" than Williams does. Steinberg: "You saw the mobs of people already out there today trying to buy Melo jerseys. I don't know if the same thing happens for Deron Williams" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 2/23). The N.Y. Daily News' Eamon McAnaney said Williams "doesn't have the star value of Carmelo Anthony, especially in this town" ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 2/23).
A GAMBLE WORTH TAKING: In N.Y., George Willis writes the Nets "needed to do what they did yesterday." Prokhorov was "looking like an owner who was all talk and no action; an owner with big money, but making no real impact." But that has "all changed now that the Nets have landed Williams." With the Knicks "making all the noise this year, the Nets had to do something to become relevant again" (N.Y. POST, 2/24). Also in N.Y., Fred Kerber notes the N.Y. Post and Daily News in yesterday's editions had a combined "21 stories, 25 pictures, 10 charts and one cartoon devoted to the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony," compared to "two stories and one picture about the Nets." Losing Anthony to the Knicks was "catastrophic for public relations, relevance, ticket sales," so the Nets "needed to do something for significance." Kerber: "So they did -- with a huge gamble. ... A gamble the Nets simply had to take" (N.Y. POST, 2/24). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "The Nets just won the battle of the back page today. Carmelo gets trumped before he even goes out there" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/23).