NEWARK, N.J. - Residing as he does in Moscow, Mikhail Prokhorov doesn't spend much time around the Nets. But when the team's owner comes to town things happen.
On hand for the first time since opening night to celebrate "Russian Culture Night" at the Prudential Center, the Russian billionaire entrepreneur brought a swift and definitive end to the Carmelo Anthony madness that seemed to have his franchise - and much of the NBA - in its grip for the first half of the season.
"I am instructing our team to walk away from the deal, and the meeting that was supposed to be held by our management in Denver with Carmelo is hereby canceled," Prokhorov told a conference room full of U.S. and Russian reporters before last night's game with the Utah Jazz.
That meeting had been set for Thursday.
"Really I am not happy with the way the deal has gone until now," said Prokhorov, who said he made his decision "one day ago." "It has taken too long. It has been played out in public. The uncertainty has taken a toll on the players. And I believe it has cost us several games - games I believe our team for sure could win in this period of time.
"I think the management of the team did a great job. But there comes a time when the price is simply too expensive . . . It was too long and too expensive."
The proposed deal, which took on various incarnations, involved 14 to 16 players as well as a passel of first-round draft picks. It hinged on Anthony, a Brooklyn native, agreeing to a three-year, $65-million contract extension with the Nets, who are planning a move to that borough in time for the 2012-13 season.
Prokhorov said the Nets received permission from Denver to talk with Anthony on Monday night, but he never spoke to the All-Star forward.
"Maybe he sent me an e-mail but I never use computer, that's why, maybe, I missed it or maybe carrier pigeon got lost."
Nets general manager Billy King said he learned of the decision Wednesday.
"He pretty much told me the same thing he told you guys - that we're out," the GM said. "It's been a long process, but we'll move on . . . I'm not disappointed at all. In all my years - 16 years in the NBA - I've never seen anything like this.
"There were times, I think in my mind, where I wrestled with that same idea. Because you get to a point where you say, 'Enough's enough.' "