LONDON — Phase 2 of Sell-Deron-Williams-on-the-Nets kicked into high gear here Friday afternoon with the arrival of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who hit town just in time to see Williams lead the Nets to the first regular season win on European soil in NBA history.
But Prokhorov shared some of his thoughts on the Nets’ plan before the game. Sitting on a panel with NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tannenbaum, Prokhorov admitted that this time in London would be his first opportunity to sit down and begin selling Williams on the Nets face-to-face.
“We only had a 10-minute chat after the game and he was really tired,” Prokhorov said of the time they spent chatting after a game in San Antonio the day after the Nets snagged Williams in a trade with Utah for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and cash. “I think we will meet here in London for a more substantial meeting, for a global discussion. For me, it is very interesting, the reaction of an All-Star player, what he is feeling about what is going on in the global world. I have one approach, maybe he feels something different.
“But from that first meeting, we have a lot in common. He wants to be No. 1, we want to be No. 1. We are on the same page. That is very important.”
Prokhorov had to like what he saw from Williams Friday night. The two-time All-Star scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime and also finished with 11 assists as the Nets pulled away late to snap a six-game losing streak.
Even more important, though, was the way Williams owned the floor and the flow of the game when he was out there. In Brook Lopez (25 points) and Williams, the Nets already have two of the pieces they’ll need to reshape their team into a playoff contender in the next year.
But they also have a time crunch they are dealing with. Williams can become a free agent in the summer of 2012. He said he won’t make a decision until it’s time. That gives Prokhorov and the Nets a little time to make their case, one strong enough to sway Williams into making the move from New Jersey to Brooklyn after next season.