Nets Rumors

Nets Notes: Levy, Business Ventures, Projections

Nets owner Joe Tsai, who was unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors to take over control of the team earlier this week, believes the franchise has done an excellent job creating a winning environment.

“They established the culture, developed talent others couldn’t see, and made Brooklyn the place where the best players want to play,” Tsai said (via Brian Lewis of the New York Post). “In a great position to compete. I am thrilled to be partners with winners!”

Tsai has David Levy, who formerly lead Turner Broadcasting, overseeing his sports portfolio.

“It all starts with putting a competitive product on the floor. That means we have to win games, both in the regular season and the playoffs,” Levy said. “That’ll help us attract more fans.

“We’re going to market our stars, our team, our culture. That’s opportunities for bigger sponsors, and the foundation [GM] Sean [Marks] and [head coach] Kenny [Atkinson] built is going to help me do that.”

Here’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets are looking at opportunities around esports (Brooklyn owns one of the 22 teams in the 2K League) and sports betting in order to capitalize on the increased interest in the team, Lewis relays in the same piece. Levy also tells Lewis that he intends to look into trying to re-negotiate the team’s TV deal.
  • Steve Kyler believes the Nets will finish fourth in the Atlantic Division, as he writes in a collaborative piece with the staff at Basketball Insiders. Kyler doesn’t see Kyrie Irving’s transition to the lead role in Brooklyn going smoothly.
  • In the same piece, Eric Pincus details how the Nets were creative with their financial moves this past offseason. Brooklyn negotiated a double sign-and-trade with Golden State for Kevin Durant rather than signing him outright, which allowed the team to maximize its cap space.

NBA’s Board Of Governors Unanimously Approves Nets Sale To Joe Tsai

The NBA’s Board of Governors has unanimously approved the sale of the Nets – and the Barclays Center – to Joe Tsai, the league announced today in a press release.

Tsai, who had been a minority stakeholder in the franchise, finalized a deal last month to purchase the remaining shares from Mikhail Prokhorov, but that deal required approval from the Board of Governors before it could become fully official.

“We are thrilled that Joe Tsai is becoming the principal owner and governor of the Brooklyn Nets,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “In addition to being a passionate basketball fan, Joe is one of China’s preeminent internet, media and e-commerce pioneers and his expertise will be invaluable in the league’s efforts to grow the game in China and other global markets.”

In addition to formally finalizing his purchase of the Nets and their arena, Tsai has also officially installed veteran executive David Levy as the CEO of the Nets and the Barclays Center, per a team press release. Levy, the former president of Turner, will also serve as the president of J Tsai Sports, the sports investment and holding vehicle controlled by the new Nets owner.

“David brings a unique combination of sports and media know-how, strategic thinking and operating skills to our sports and entertainment business. He is an entrepreneur at heart with the experience of managing and scaling organizations, and I really look forward to working with him,” Tsai said in a statement.

For more details on the sale of the Nets to Tsai and the hiring of Levy, be sure to check out our previous stories on those moves.

Several Nets Players Remain In Favor Of Adding Carmelo Anthony

Multiple Nets players remain “fully in favor” of the team signing free agent forward Carmelo Anthony, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Reports linking Anthony to Brooklyn have become a near-weekly occurrence as of late. We initially heard at the end of August that the Nets continued to monitor the 10-time All-Star and that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were reportedly “pushing” the team to sign him. Meanwhile, a report last week suggested that Brooklyn’s interest in Anthony might be increasing with Joe Johnson off the market.

Even if Irving, Durant, and other Nets players are in favor of Anthony coming aboard, two key questions would have to be answered before it becomes a reality. The first is whether general manager Sean Marks is actually interested in signing the 35-year-old, since Marks will be the one ultimately making the decision, regardless of how many players support the idea.

The second is where Anthony would fit on the roster, which already features 15 players on guaranteed contracts. As Begley details and as we’ve noted before, Wilson Chandler‘s 25-game suspension will help create an opening on the regular season roster. But Chandler can’t be moved to the suspended list until he spends the first five games of the year on the active roster, and the Nets would have to activate or waive him once his suspension ends, essentially creating a 20-game window for the club to carry an extra player.

It’s not known whether Anthony would be interested in signing a non-guaranteed contract to essentially spend those 20 games auditioning for a more permanent spot on the Nets.

Training camps will get underway around the NBA in less than two weeks, and opening night is less than five weeks away, so if Anthony hopes to start the season on an NBA roster, he’ll need to secure a deal pretty soon.

NBA Teams With Most, Fewest Guaranteed Salaries

At this point in the offseason, the majority of the NBA’s teams are carrying either 13 or 14 players on guaranteed salaries. Teams will have to pare down their rosters to no more than 15 players on standard contracts once the regular season begins, so having 13 or 14 players on guaranteed deals now gives those clubs the flexibility to allow one or two non-guaranteed players to make the team — or to carry an open roster spot into opening night.

However, there are currently a dozen teams around the league carrying fewer than 13 guaranteed salaries or more than 14. With the help of our roster counts tool, here’s a look at those teams, with details on what they might be thinking as the 2019/20 season nears:

Fewer than 13 fully guaranteed salaries:

  • Houston Rockets (10)
  • Miami Heat (12)
  • Toronto Raptors (12)
  • Utah Jazz (12)

With only 10 players on fully guaranteed salaries, the Rockets may have some competition for their final few roster spots in training camp. For now Isaiah Hartenstein and Gary Clark – each of whom have partial guarantees – look like good bets to earn spots, with Ben McLemore perhaps the frontrunner for the 13th spot. Anthony Bennett, Chris Clemons, Michael Frazier, William McDowell-White, and Shamorie Ponds are candidates to fill out the roster, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Houston eventually acquires a veteran or two with its open spots.

[RELATED: 2019/20 Non-Guaranteed Contracts By Team]

Duncan Robinson‘s and Kendrick Nunn‘s partial guarantees put them in good position to earn the Heat‘s 13th and 14th roster spots. The hard-capped club won’t have room for a 15th player to start the season.

Royce O’Neale is a lock to make the Jazz, and Georges Niang seems like a safe bet too. William Howard and Stanton Kidd could be the prime contenders for the 15th spot if Utah wants a full roster.

For the Raptors, second-round pick Dewan Hernandez, veteran point guard Cameron Payne, and returning role players Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller are the top candidates for the final two or three openings on the regular season roster.

More than 14 fully guaranteed salaries:

  • Brooklyn Nets (15)
  • Dallas Mavericks (15)
  • Indiana Pacers (15)
  • Memphis Grizzlies (15)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (15)
  • New York Knicks (15)
  • Phoenix Suns (15)
  • San Antonio Spurs (15)

The Grizzlies were the only team carrying more than 15 guaranteed salaries, but a buyout agreement with Dwight Howard changed that. If they reach a similar deal – or find a trade – involving Andre Iguodala, their roster count would dip to 14 fully guaranteed contracts.

The Nets, Mavericks, Pacers, Timberwolves, Knicks, Suns, and Spurs could shake things up with roster moves before the season begins, particularly if any of those teams is impressed by a non-guaranteed camp invitee. But for now, their regular season rosters look pretty set with their 15 players on guaranteed salaries.

New York Notes: Thabeet, Ntilikina, Nets, Fein

Free agent center Hasheem Thabeet will once again participate in workouts with the Knicks this week, agent Jerry Dianis tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Thabeet has spent a lot of time around the team lately, having worked out for New York in August and then again during the first week of September.

It remains unclear whether the Knicks are seriously interested in bringing Thabeet to training camp this fall. Currently, New York has a full 20-man roster, though if the team wants to sign the former No. 2 overall pick, it would be easy enough to create a roster spot by releasing a player with a non-guaranteed contract.

The Knicks’ projected 15-man regular season roster doesn’t feature any true centers besides Mitchell Robinson, so if Thabeet looks good, bringing him aboard for depth purposes could be appealing. However, the club has plenty of veteran power forwards who figure to see time at the five, including Taj Gibson, Julius Randle, and Bobby Portis.

Here’s more on both of New York’s teams:

  • Steve Popper of Newsday is skeptical that Frank Ntilikina will get the opportunity to play an increased role this season for the Knicks, even after the Frenchman’s impressive World Cup performance. As Popper notes, the team was willing to play stopgaps like Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke over Ntilikina last season, and now may be more invested in getting Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton regular minutes.
  • The Nets‘ new G League head coach, Shaun Fein, has a history with Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson, as he tells Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com. Fein and Atkinson spent time together playing for French team Nantes during the 2001/02 season, with Atkinson provided crucial veteran guidance. “He kind of took me under his wing,” Fein said. “He was at the latter stages of his career and I was just beginning mine. I think as a first-year player, as an American, you’re in a foreign country, you don’t really know anything. … He kind of got me out of my comfort zone. ‘Hey, we’re going to go out, we’re going to go have dinner,’ and things like that. Kind of showed me how to live life as a basketball player in Europe. I was really appreciative of that.”
  • In case you missed it, we reviewed the Knicks‘ offseason on Friday and relayed word earlier today of the Nets hiring a new CEO.

Nets Hiring David Levy As CEO

The Nets are hiring longtime Turner president David Levy as their new CEO, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Brooklyn is expected to make the hiring official after Joseph Tsai‘s purchase of the team is formally approved at the league’s upcoming Board of Governors meetings.

Levy spent 33 years with Turner before leaving his position with the company earlier this year shortly after AT&T’s acquisition of Turner and the rest of WarnerMedia. He started as an ad sales account executive with the company in 1986 before eventually ascending to the role of president in 2013.

Levy will be replacing Brett Yormark, who announced last month that he’d be stepping down from his position as CEO of the Nets and the Barclays Center. Yormark had a significant amount of control under Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, but with Tsai taking over as the controlling owner of both the Nets and their arena, it makes sense that he’d bring in his own lead executive.

In a press release issued a month ago announcing Tsai’s deal to buy out Prokhorov, the Nets confirmed that Yormark would oversee the transition to new ownership before “departing for a new role.”

Nets To Give Away 10k Kyrie Irving Jerseys Against Knicks

  • The Nets plan to give away 10,000 Kyrie Irving jerseys when the team hosts the Knicks on October 25, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). The Knicks were one of several teams interested in signing Irving in July, though Irving was said to have his sights set on joining the Nets well before the start of free agency.

Dinwiddie Turning Contract Into Digital Investment Vehicle

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie will become the first NBA player to turn his player contract into a digital investment vehicle, multiple sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Charania explains, Dinwiddie is expected to give up some future income on his three-year, $34MM+ deal with the Nets in order to secure smaller lump sum payments up front, which he could then immediately invest. Investors who secure a “Dinwiddie bond” in the form of a digital token would eventually be paid back the principal amount with interest, with that cost covered by the veteran’s NBA contract, writes Charania.

Nets’ Interest In Carmelo Anthony May Be Growing

With Joe Johnson possibly headed to Detroit, several Nets veterans are pushing the front office to sign Carmelo Anthony, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Johnson said he was planning to work out for Brooklyn this week, but sources tell Lewis it hasn’t happened yet. He had a session with the Pistons yesterday, and The Athletic’s Frank Isola said on SiriusXMNBA, “From what I’m hearing, Detroit is the favorite to land Joe Johnson.” (Twitter link)

That may leave Anthony for the Nets, who suddenly have a depth issue at forward. In addition to playing without Kevin Durant, who may be sidelined for the entire season, Brooklyn lost Wilson Chandler to a 25-game PED suspension and Rodions Kurucs may be suspended as well over domestic violence allegations.

The Athletic reported that Durant and Kyrie Irving were appealing to management to add Anthony, and GM Sean Marks recently watched him play. Anthony spent much of the summer working out in Los Angeles with a few Nets players.

Taurean Prince tweeted a video of Anthony from those pickup games, along with the following endorsement: “Guarded him for a month straight. Same Melo only thing diff is the narrative ppl throw on his name.”

The Nets are eligible to move a suspended player off their active roster after the fifth game, so talks with Anthony could heat up by early November, if not sooner.

Kevin Durant Talks FA Decision, Warriors, Thunder

Kevin Durant hasn’t spoken much this summer about his decision to leave the Warriors for the Nets in free agency, but he opened up on that topic in a conversation with J.R. Moehringer of The Wall Street Journal.

As Durant explained to Moehringer, after going through an extended series of meetings during his free agency in 2016, the star forward didn’t feel the need to do the same in 2019. He didn’t even need to speak to the Nets before making his decision, having felt confident from the outside that Brooklyn was the right fit.

Durant also noted that the motion offense the Warriors run “only works to a certain point,” and that the later rounds of the postseason require him to get more creative on offense. According to Moehringer, the 10-time All-Star wanted to go somewhere where he’d be “free to hone that sort of improvisational game” over the course of the season.

The opportunity to join his “best friend in the league,” Kyrie Irving, was a plus for KD too.

Over the course of Moehringer’s piece, Durant offers a handful of interesting thoughts and observations on his fit with the Warriors, his relationship with the Thunder, and his feeling about the NBA. Here are a few of those highlights:

On never fully fitting in with the Warriors:

“I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted. But I’ll never be one of those guys. I didn’t get drafted there.… Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there. And the rest of the guys kind of rehabilitated their careers there. So me? S–t, how you going to rehabilitate me? What you going to teach me? How can you alter anything in my basketball life? I got an MVP already. I got scoring titles.

“As time went on, I started to realize I’m just different from the rest of the guys. It’s not a bad thing. Just my circumstances and how I came up in the league. And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it’s like nobody could get a full acceptance of me there.”

On the hostile reaction he received from the Thunder and their fans when he returned as a Warrior:

“Such a venomous toxic feeling when I walked into that arena. And just the organization, the trainers and equipment managers, those dudes is pissed off at me? Ain’t talking to me? I’m like, ‘Yo, this is where we going with this? Because I left a team and went to play with another team?’

“… I’ll never be attached to that city again because of that. I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there. That s–t must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.”

On the business of the NBA:

“Some days I hate the circus of the NBA. Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game. Sometimes I don’t like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.”