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Ratner chose profits over re-signing K-Mart

NEW YORK -- Bruce Ratner acknowledged that he wasn't
prepared to take over as the New Jersey Nets owner last summer
because he was more focused on making a profit than doing what was
best for the team and re-signing power forward Kenyon Martin.
"Last year, we started looking at the money instead of what the
team needed," Ratner said Wednesday. "Now it's the other way
around."
Speaking with beat reporters, Ratner touched on a wide range of
topics, including the team's planned new arena, club finances, the
future of the Nets' Big Three and input from All-Star Jason Kidd.
Ratner said his planned new arena in Brooklyn won't be ready
until at least the 2008-09 season, with a groundbreaking expected
sometime next year.
He acknowledged that reports that the team lost $30 million this
past season were relatively accurate.
After being swept in the first round of the playoffs, Ratner
said he would be surprised if the team traded any one of its big
stars -- Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.
And, he had no problem with Kidd putting pressure on management
to make the team better, adding he would be willing to listen to
any suggestions the point guard had to make.
Heading into his second offseason, Ratner said much has changed
since the Nets were forced to sign and trade Martin to Denver
rather than match an offer that the Brooklyn real estate developer
felt was too costly.
After paying roughly $300 million to buy the team, Ratner said
his first mistake was to try to draw up a budget for the 2004-05
season.
"You can't do that," Ratner said. "You have to look at what
you have."
The restrictions of a budget also led Nets president Rod Thorn
to trade Kerry Kittles to the Clippers for a second-round draft
choice and to release well-liked backup shooting guard Lucious
Harris.
The moves not only weakened a team that went to the NBA Finals
in 2002 and '03, but they annoyed Kidd to no end and led to
problems that lasted for months.
"I wasn't ready to be an owner," Ratner said. "I never
anticipated that some of the other co-owners might have a large
role. It's funny because (NBA Commissioner) David Stern said you
could have only one person in charge. I heard it but never
processed it."
Ratner said there were too many people involved in making
decisions last summer.
"You can't run a business like that and you can't run a sports
team that way," Ratner said.
Ratner is now the final voice on all decisions involving the
team, although he said he is leaving most of the basketball
decisions to Thorn and general manager Ed Stefanski.
He also wants Kidd to be happy.
"We share the same goals, which is winning," Ratner said. "We
share the same goals, which is getting players to make us an even
better team. I don't think there is a conflict. I don't see a
problem with Jason pushing management. That's fine."
Ratner conceded that he and Kidd were not on the same page last
year.
"I take responsibility for last summer," Ratner said.