Having first met Mikhail Prokhorov when he was 17 and having played for his CSKA Moscow team before coming to the Jazz, Andrei Kirilenko is uniquely qualified to speak about the Russian billionaire and prospective owner of the New Jersey Nets.
First of all, is Prokhorov really worth the $9.5 billion that has been reported? This should send a shudder around the league. "He's worth more," Kirilenko said. "That's probably the cash that he has."
Kirilenko learned the news about a week before reports surfaced that Prokhorov was set to buy the struggling Nets. As Russia's biggest basketball star, Kirilenko was asked about playing for the country's richest man.
"He's a very successful manager and he definitely wants to build the team rather than just start taking players," Kirilenko said.
After hearing criticism from the organization about his weight last season, Kirilenko reported to training camp at 238 pounds, having gained nearly 20 pounds in the summer. So far, Kirilenko has kept it on for three weeks.
"I definitely want to be a little bit stronger on the floor and see how I can be quick in the same point," Kirilenko said. "As long as I can keep this weight on and run with it, I'll be fine."
As for keeping on the weight, he said, "I think it's going to be the toughest challenge for me because the style of my game is very energetic. It's going to be my biggest challenge for the season."
With the Jazz having given up 100.9 points on average last season, their most since the 1992-93 season, coach Jerry Sloan was blunt in saying, "It shows I did a terrible job trying to coach the team defensively, so I've got to do a better job."
The difference this season will be simple, according to Sloan.
"Take guys out of the game," he said. "If they're not going to run the floor and get involved on the defensive end, I'm going to have to take them out of the game."
"We've got to get out and get after people and try to be a little bit more physical and play that way," Sloan added. "You can talk about all that stuff all you want, but if we can't get it done, then it's something that we'll have to take a serious look at."
Forward Ronald Dupree , who could end up replacing Matt Harpring , once was cut from the Jazz's Rocky Mountain Revue summer-league team. "It was a disappointing situation, but I think it's worked out for the best and it's good that it's come full circle to come back," said Dupree, who has played with Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota and Seattle in five seasons.