Mikhail Prokhorov says Nets are a player away from being elite

Mikhail Prokhorov talks to the crowd before Game

Mikhail Prokhorov talks to the crowd before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Chicago Bulls. (April 20, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Mikhail Prokhorov thinks the Nets need a slight talent upgrade before they can be considered among the league's elite.

The Nets' Russian billionaire owner told Bloomberg TV the team needs to add another piece.

"One more good player," he said during an interview in Moscow last week before traveling to Brooklyn to catch his team's playoff series. "And we need time to make a really strong team."

P.J. Carlesimo is on board with Prokhorov's thinking -- sort of. Asked Monday night if he concurred with the owner's assessment, the Nets' interim coach made sure not to cross his boss while adding a little humor.

"You think I would disagree with Mr. Prokhorov?" Carlesimo said, producing laughter from the media.

"That is an astute statement . . . Having said that, I love the 15 players that we have now. The league is expanding to 16 [roster spots] next year, so it won't affect any of the guys currently on the roster. So Mikhail is right . . . "

Prokhorov, who has attended the first two games of the Nets' playoff series, hasn't wavered from the bold promise he made a few years ago when he said the Nets will hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy by the time 2015 is over.

"If we have a great team spirit, great passion, we can beat anyone in the league," he said. "We are not underdogs, that's for sure."

Thibs: Deron is confident

Like everyone else, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has marveled at the rejuvenation of Nets point guard Deron Williams.

Thibodeau was complimentary after Williams set the tone in the series opener with his play, scoring 22 points and passing for seven assists.

"I think he's gotten his explosion back and he's such a big guard, very powerful, quick," Thibodeau said. "And then his ability to make the right play. So not only is he scoring but he gets easy baskets for other people, and I don't think you can overlook it. I think overall, just the way he's moving, you can tell he's got his confidence back."

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