- The Nets rested their players in the final game of the regular season, despite the fact that they were long eliminated from the postseason, had zero incentive to tank and were matched up against a Bulls team that needed a win to sneak into the playoffs. Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily recently wrote about the controversy the decision has stirred up.
There were a number of moves that the Celtics could have made, Bontemps says, without necessarily making a major splash involving a superstar or giving up one of their coveted Nets draft picks. Serge Ibaka and Taj Gibson are two quality rebounding forwards who were obviously available that day. Lou Williams is another.
- The Nets will need to approach their rebuild strategically, says general manager Sean Marks. Nets Daily broke down what the executive has said about his vision for the future thus far. “The objective for us is to be in the playoffs. When that comes, we’ll see,” Marks said. “You don’t want to go and sign free agents and then the next thing you know your payroll is capped out and you’re a 25-win team. We’re going to have to build this strategically, have patience with it.”
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is looking to sell 49% of his ownership stake in the franchise, he told Russian media this week, according to an Associated Press report. Per Prokhorov, “the process is going on and we are looking for a buyer.”
Prokhorov said back in the fall that he wanted to retain majority ownership of the Nets, but that he was interested in bringing in an investor to take on a minority share of the team — preferably, that owner would be a local one to strengthen the club’s presence in New York. As NetsDaily outlines, Prokhorov reiterated this week that he’s committed to the Nets and “will remain the majority owner of the team.”
League sources tell NetsDaily that in recent months a handful of potential buyers have approached either the NBA, Prokhorov’s investment bankers, or Allen & Co., the firm Prokhorov hired to identify possible investors. However, the NetsDaily report suggests that the asking price is high, and there’s some uncertainty about whether a minority investor would be given an option to eventually purchase a controlling interest in the team. There also may be a divide between the Nets and the NBA over whether a stake in the Barclays Center should be involved in any sale.
In February, Forbes valued the Nets franchise at $1.8 billion, which would mean that a 49% share in the team would approach $900MM. Teams that have been sold in the past have often fetched a higher return than Forbes’ valuations, so Prokhorov could be seeking an even higher price from a prospective buyer.
Shabazz Muhammad will be a restricted free agent this offseason and Darren Wolfson of ESPN.com (podcast) hears that the Nets are a team to keep an eye on. Brooklyn has pursued several restricted free agents since Sean Marks took over GM duties, though the organization has been unsuccessful in its attempts. The team went after Donatas Motiejunas, Tyler Johnson, and Allen Crabbe only to see each player’s original team match Brooklyn’s offer sheet.
Minnesota likes Muhammad and would like to bring him back, Wolfson adds. The Wolves have approximately $75MM in guaranteed salary on the books next season, so they could ostensibly make the small-forward a lucrative offer. However, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins will all be lining up for new deals over the next few years, so the team may be best served to keep its future cap sheet clean and veer away from adding any substantial long-term money.
The UCLA product shot the ball nearly eight times per game last season and he made 48.2% of his attempts. He wasn’t efficient from behind the arc, making just 33.6% of his shots and he didn’t set up teammates for good looks with his passing very often. He had 35 dimes on the season, which includes a 15-game stretch between the end of December and the end of January where he registered just one assist. In fact, Muhammad had the fewest assists on a season in league history among all non-bigs who played at least 1500 minutes and used over 20% of his team’s possessions.
Muhammad made slightly over $3.0MM this season, though regardless of his score-first mentality, he should be in line for a raise on that figure with his next deal. He’ll turn 25 at the start of next season.
The Nets finished with the NBA’s worst record, but the team was competitive down the stretch, and given how low expectations were for the Nets entering the regular season, 2016/17 wasn’t a total disaster for the team. Still, general manager Sean Marks acknowledged today that there’s still “a long ways to go” as the club continues to rebuild its roster, which remains a “work in progress” (link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com).
Here are a few of the other comments Marks made today during his end-of-season press conference:
- Marks repeatedly referred to the international market – including Europe, Australia, and China -as a means of landing talent for the NBA roster (Twitter link via NetsDaily). Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson are heading to Europe soon to meet with owner Mikhail Prokhorov and to do some scouting (Twitter link via Youngmisuk). And while the Nets have been keeping a close eye on CSKA Moscow guard Milos Teodosic, Marks stressed that the club is looking at “a bunch” of different international players (Twitter link via Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily).
- The Nets will have two first-round picks this year after acquiring one from Washington in February’s Bojan Bogdanovic trade. Marks suggested today that he’d be open to snagging a draft-and-stash prospect with one of those two picks (Twitter link via Fonseca).
- Even if the Nets don’t necessarily expect to make a playoff run next season, Marks wants his roster to be balanced in terms of age and experience, since he believes a mix of veterans and young players is important (Twitter link via Fonseca).
- Although the Nets swung and missed multiple times in restricted free agency last summer, Marks said that “doesn’t mean we are not going that route” this summer (link via Youngmisuk). We’ve heard in recent weeks and months that RFAs like Otto Porter and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be among Brooklyn’s targets.
Four NBA teams finished the 2016/17 season below the league’s salary floor and will have to make up the difference by paying a little extra money to the players who finished the season on their respective rosters. The Nets, Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Jazz each fell short of the $84.729MM floor this season.
While the 2016/17 league year isn’t over yet, the end of the regular season last week signaled the “snapshot” day for luxury tax and salary floor purposes. Teams are required to spend at least 90% of the salary cap in each NBA season, though the penalties for failing to do so aren’t exactly punitive. If a club falls $2MM short of the salary floor, for instance, it must pay that $2MM to players on its roster to reach the floor.
Our numbers aren’t official, but they should very closely resemble the NBA’s final figures. Bobby Marks of The Vertical confirmed last week that Brooklyn, Denver, Minnesota, and Utah finished below the salary floor. Here’s what those team’s end-of-season cap figures look like, per our Salary Cap Snapshots:
- Brooklyn Nets: $1,336,916 below floor (team salary: $83,392,084)
- Denver Nuggets: $2,147,064 below floor (team salary: $82,581,936)
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $3,023,043 below floor (team salary: $81,705,957)
- Utah Jazz: $4,230,808 below floor (team salary: $80,498,192)
While the current CBA doesn’t include a set formula that teams must adhere to when distributing the salary floor shortfall to their players, it’s believed that players generally receive proportional amounts based on their salaries, rather than even splits. So for the Jazz, a player like Gordon Hayward would receive a larger share than Joel Bolomboy.
With the NBA’s salary cap expected to increase to at least $101MM in 2017/18, the league’s salary floor appears likely to exceed $90MM next season.
Justin Holiday said last month that he’d love to find a way to play on the same team as his brother Jrue Holiday next season, and both players are eligible for free agency this summer, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks may be an ideal landing spot for the duo, since Justin is the sort of effective two-way player the club wants to retain, and New York will also be in the market for a point guard like Jrue if Derrick Rose doesn’t return.
With the Holiday brothers not competing in the playoffs, Justin Holiday tells The Post that they plan to “take some time off” and eventually will talk about their plans for the future. Given how dysfunctional the Knicks have been this season, it remains to be seen whether the elder Holiday will make an enthusiastic pitch to younger brother Jrue on behalf of the franchise.
Here’s more from out of New York on the Knicks and Nets:
- Phil Jackson the coach is undermining Phil Jackson the team president, in the view of George Willis of The New York Post. As Willis details, Jackson’s comments on Friday made it sounds as if he intends to micromanage the club more in 2017/18, which probably doesn’t thrill Jeff Hornacek and likely won’t address the problems that ail the Knicks.
- While 2016/17 was a disaster, there are ways for Jackson to fix the Knicks‘ roster, or at least take steps toward patching the holes, Berman writes in a piece for The New York Post. Berman examines potential defensive-minded free agent targets for the Knicks, as well as draft options for the club.
- The Nets will use the draft, the trade market, and free agency to attempt to upgrade their roster this season, but head coach Kenny Atkinson and the team will also do all they can to find ways to improve the players already on the roster, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “We’re obsessed with that as a staff, one through 15: How can we get those guys better?” Atkinson said. “I’m sure I have a wish list that’s Utopian, but where we are we have to keep taking a lot of pride in developing the players we have. … To me, that’s your wish list: Get these guys better that are on your roster.”
The Nets are optimistic that they can improve in free agency this summer, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn will enter the July bidding with the ability to clear enough cap space to offer two max deals, along with a feeling of momentum after going 11-13 in its last 24 games. Jeremy Lin, who signed with the team as a free agent last summer, said several players have already contacted him about coming to Brooklyn. “Players are asking about us because they saw the way that Kenny [Atkinson] coached,” he said. “They saw how hard these guys played night-in and night-out, how unselfish we played. They want to be a part of that, so there’s already been a lot of interest. People are already asking questions, whether it’s to me or Brook [Lopez] or other players.”
There’s more news out of Brooklyn:
- One of the Nets’ offseason objectives will be finding a backup for Lin, Lewis writes in a separate story. Lin played well in his first season in Brooklyn, averaging 14.5 points and 5.1 assists per night, but a lingering hamstring problem limited him to 36 games. The Nets had the league’s worst record at 20-62, but they were 13-20 with him as a starter and 10-12 after the All-Star break with their preferred starting lineup. Brooklyn added Greivis Vasquez as a backup point guard last summer, but he played just 39 minutes before ankle problems led to his buyout. “When we started the season, I thought we had Jeremy and the backup settled,’’ Atkinson said. “Now with Spencer [Dinwiddie], Archie [Goodwin] and Isaiah Whitehead], we have to answer, ‘Do we have the solution in-house now?’ I think we do, as the backups have played well. [But] we’ll have to look and see what offseason and next year moves we need to make.”
- Dinwiddie, who played 59 games after signing with the Nets in December, hopes his long-term future is in Brooklyn, relays NetsDaily.com. Dinwiddie’s contract calls for him to make $1.05MM next season and $1.125MM in 2018/19, but both years are non-guaranteed. “You never know in this business how anything can happen or how it will all shake out,” he said, “but I’ve loved my time here and hopefully look forward to being here for a long time. The organization is great. The staff is great and hopefully we can turn this thing around and just make the playoffs next year. That’d be nice.”
- Goodwin, who joined the team in mid-March, also has a non-guaranteed deal for next season, tweets NetsDaily. He will receive a $200K guarantee on his $1.58MM salary if he is still with the team October 31st.
Nicolo Melli is drawing interest from Real Madrid in the Euroleague, but he also has the attention of several NBA teams. Niki Bakouli of Sport24 reports (Twitter links) that the Rockets and Nets are among the teams interested in adding the power forward.
Melli said playing in the NBA is “a dream,” but added that his decision on where to go will depend on what kind of offers he receives.
“I don’t rule out any possibility but I don’t like to talk about the future” Melli said, (via E. Carchia of Sportando). “It is great to draw interest from other teams [Real Madrid is one of the teams] but I did not talk with anyone. My agent and I will think about the future after the season talking with Bamberg. NBA? It is a dream. But it will depend on the offers because I love too much being on the court and playing.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- Two different groups are each preparing to spend over $500MM to renovate the Key-Arena in Seattle with hopes of attracting an NBA or NHL team, Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports. “Today is an important day in our goal of bringing the Sonics home and the NHL to Seattle,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said. “Two well-known organizations submitted proposals to redevelop KeyArena, totaling more than $1 billion in investments between them. Their interest shows how Seattle has become one of the most desirable cities in America for sports and entertainment.”
- Nets GM Sean Marks is heading back to Moscow to get another look at Milos Teodosic, sources tell international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). It was previously reported that the point guard was unlikely to sign with Brooklyn since the team has not been competitive.
- Amy Trask has been named the CEO of the BIG3, according to the league’s website. Trask previously spent nearly 30 years working the Oakland Raiders organization.
- Mo Alie-Cox, who played basketball at VCU, is trying to break into the NFL and he’s scheduled to meet with six teams, as Zach Links of Pro Football Rumors writes. Be sure to stay tuned to PFR for the latest news and notes on the NFL.
- Irina Pavlova, who serves as a top adviser to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, is leaving the organization, Chris Mannix of The Vertical writes. Pavlova is on the board of directors for Brooklyn and Brooklyn Arena LLC, which is the company that runs the Barclays Center.