"I've never lost my cool. Even in love affairs. If you have Plan B and Plan C, you are all the time relaxed."
Those were the words spoken by New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov during his introductory press conference last May. With the Nets completing a deal with the Utah Jazz—sending Deron Williams to New Jersey—just a day after losing out on Carmelo Anthony, it appears the man was not lying.
He never loses his cool and he always has a backup plan.
The question now is: How long did Prokhorov know he had this deal in the bag?
He called off the hunt for Carmelo on Jan. 19. So, surely he and his management team began looking at other options then, if they hadn't been doing so already.
We've known for a while now that the Nets would be trading Devin Harris. His relationship with the team had become so strained that it was an unworkable situation.
So were all those other rumors and potential destinations merely a smokescreen? Were New Jersey and Utah working on this all along?
Surely Prokhorov knew Carmelo had no intention of signing an extension with the Nets, yet Denver and New Jersey re-opened talks regarding him last week.
It now seems that was simply done to drive up the price New York had to pay to get 'Melo's services. Since Williams was sent to New Jersey so quickly, it's not hard to infer the deal was already in place.
Trades of this caliber don't just happen overnight, and in making this deal, the Nets actually got a better all-around player than Anthony for a lesser price.
This fact makes it even more likely that all the other rumors were simply a distraction.
Neither team wanted this out in the press, and with everyone knowing the Nets were looking to acquire a big-name player, they made sure to give the illusion of being in active trade talks with several teams.
While everybody else was busy scrambling to find out where Anthony would go, the Nets and Jazz quietly worked on a deal of the same importance.
Perhaps the surprise resignation of Utah coach Jerry Sloan was even part of this. Maybe he knew they were going to blow up the ship and start over and didn't want to be part of a rebuilding project.
Maybe that wasn't so much an issue of Williams not getting along with his coach as it was Sloan not agreeing with the direction in which the organization was going.
Whatever the case may be, it's clear the Nets have an owner in Prokhorov who knows what he's doing. He forced the rival Knicks to pony up more than they intended to for Carmelo, all the while knowing he had another, better, move to make.
Having a Plan B and Plan C makes you "all the time relaxed" indeed.