WEDNESDAY, 8:25am: One insider was particularly direct in casting doubt on the idea of Vatutin joining the Nets as their GM this summer, calling it “BS,” NetsDaily tweets.
1:13pm: Team insiders who spoke with NetsDaily see Vatutin as an unlikely choice for GM (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 11:22am: CSKA Moscow team president Andrey Vatutin is Mikhail Prokhorov’s “top choice” to become the GM of the Nets with Billy King‘s contract up at season’s end, sources tell Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.net. Vatutin has ties to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who used to own the Russian team. He worked under Prokhorov and former CSKA president Sergey Kushchenko, now a Nets board member and chief sports adviser to Prokhorov, as NetsDaily points out. The Nets pursued Vatutin for an assistant GM job in 2010, the year King became GM, but Vatutin turned them down, according to Barkas and NetsDaily.
It’s unclear whether Vatutin would decide to head to Brooklyn this time around, as Barkas details. The Eurohoops scribe suggests that Prokhorov has already offered the GM job to Vatutin, though Prokhorov complimented King’s job performance as recently as October. The owner at that point declined to address the matter of an extension for King, though Zach Lowe of ESPN.com heard “serious rumblings” in May that the Nets and King were close to an extension deal. NetsDaily poured cold water on the idea shortly thereafter, reporting that a source had said the Nets and King hadn’t engaged in any extension talks.
Brooklyn, at 10-24, has the NBA’s third-worst record and is without its first-round picks in 2016 and 2018, thanks to the 2013 trade King engineered that brought in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Still, Prokhorov, who was the impetus for the team’s desire to make a splash upon its 2012 move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, said in April that he liked King’s “bold” approach to the roster. The Nets stuck by King when former coach Jason Kidd reportedly tried to usurp his power in 2014.
The Nets have nonetheless won only a single playoff series in the five full seasons since King came aboard. Brooklyn has a chance to open some $35MM in cap room for next season, but without draft picks or a winning roster, the team doesn’t appear to be a top free agent destination.
The 42-year-old Vatutin has been with CSKA Moscow since 2002 and became the organization’s CEO in 2007. The Russian powerhouse has collected a litany of championships since then, as Barkas details. The team is 14-1 in Russian league play and 9-2 in the Euroleague this season.