Joe Tsai

Nets Notes: Green, Durant, Harden, Griffin, Tsai

Plantar fasciitis forced Nets forward Jeff Green to miss six games earlier in the playoffs, but he has made a huge impact since his return. In a crucial Game 5 win on Tuesday, Green handled tough defensive assignments and was Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer behind Kevin Durant, pouring in 27 points and making 7-of-8 three-point attempts.

“Jeff Green was unbelievable,” head coach Steve Nash said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Incredible performance. For a guy who is coming off an injury, who has been a big part of our team this year, to step up and show that maturity, that veteran presence, that winning mentality, was unbelievable. Kevin’s performance tonight was historic, but Jeff’s the one that kept us in the game for a long, long time.”

Over the course of his NBA career, Green has become one of the league’s most well-traveled players, having played for 10 different teams since making his debut in 2007. The veteran forward hasn’t played for the same club for two consecutive full seasons since leaving Boston in 2014. However, he tells Sopan Deb of The New York Times that he can envision himself sticking with the Nets beyond this season.

“I’d love to settle down in one place,” Green said, adding that he’d like to play into his 40s. “There’s Brooklyn. I’d love to settle down in Brooklyn. I’m not too concerned with the NBA record or how many teams. When you think about it, if I was to play 22 years, played on 15 teams, what does that say? It has no teeth behind it.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Brian Windhorst of ESPN takes a closer look at what might be remembered as a career-defining performance for Kevin Durant, who led the Nets to a Game 5 victory with 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists on 16-of-23 shooting.
  • While James Harden‘s final stat list (five points on 1-of-10 shooting in 46 minutes) looked pretty ugly, especially compared to Durant’s, the All-Star guard turned in an inspiring performance coming back from a hamstring injury, writes Ian O’Connor of The New York Post. Harden, who chipped in eight assists and held his own on defense, ended up with a +4 rating on the night.
  • Blake Griffin was considered a luxury pickup for the Nets when they added him on the buyout market, but the team has asked for more from him in the postseason with Harden and Kyrie Irving both hobbled, and Griffin has delivered so far, says Louis Zatzman of FiveThirtyEight.
  • Nets owner Joe Tsai admitted during an interview with CNBC this week that he didn’t realize all that he was getting into when he prepared to assume control of an NBA franchise four years ago, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “One thing that I realize, when you own a sports team is it’s larger than a sports team: It’s a social institution,” Tsai said. “You’re doing it for the fans, you’re doing it for the broader population. I’m really glad we’re situated in Brooklyn because we have the best fans in the world.”

Nets Notes: Harden, Seeding, Griffin, Sponsorships

James Harden won’t play on Tuesday but Nets coach Steve Nash is optimistic the star guard will see action in at least one regular season game heading into the postseason, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Harden has missed 18 games due to a hamstring strain.

“He is putting in his consecutive high-intensity work modes, he has responded and so it’s all positive,” Nash said. “We can’t commit to anything right now because we’re not committed to anything … but definitely possible that he plays one or more of these next four games.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Brooklyn will likely be either the No. 2 or 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs but its seeding is not a high priority for Nash, Dunleavy relays in a separate story“I think the No. 1 thought and priority as a staff is health over seeding,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re 1,000 percent in on health over seeding.”
  • Since joining the Nets as a buyout-market addition, Blake Griffin has settled in with the club, producing a 20-point game against Denver this weekend. Kyrie Irving believes Griffin will be a big key in the postseason, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “That’s what we need Blake to be in terms of being out there, being an option for us, being a playmaker,” Irving said. “His game has evolved. We understand that he’s going to play a different style with us out there, and that’s going to complement when he figures that role out.”
  • Owner Joe Tsai is seeking out new corporate partnerships to raise money, including a jersey patch sponsor, Lewis and Josh Kosman of the Post report. A name change for the Barclays Center could be in the works as well, as the franchise could get $15-20MM annually for the naming rights to the arena. Barclays Center owes more than $500MM in debt, the Post duo adds.

New York Notes: Knicks, Greer, Nets, Ivey, Stoudemire

Three Knicks employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the team to temporarily shut down its practice facility while the building gets a “thorough cleaning,” the team announced on Tuesday night in a press release.

The NBA recently allowed teams to begin conducting group workouts at their facilities, though players who are participating in those group activities must return daily negative coronavirus tests. There’s no indication that the Knicks employees who tested positive for COVID-19 were players. However, the temporary shutdown of the team’s facility is an early sign of the challenges the league will face in the coming weeks as teams all over the U.S. ramp up for the 2020/21 season without the safety of a bubble.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Larry Greer, who was an assistant coach in Phoenix last season, is joining the Knicks as an advance scout, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Marc Berman of The New York Post first reported that the Knicks may hire Greer, whose brother Andy Greer joined the team as an assistant coach in the summer.
  • The Nets have added another coach to Steve Nash‘s staff, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve hired Royal Ivey as an assistant. Formerly a Knicks player development coach, Ivey is good friends with Brooklyn forward Kevin Durant.
  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at another Nets assistant, exploring why Amar’e Stoudmire is getting into coaching and why he should be a good fit in Brooklyn.
  • News that the 2020/21 NBA season will start next month comes at a good time for Nets owner Joe Tsai, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who writes that Tsai recently lost over $1 billion in net worth due to the impact of new China regulations on the value of his company Alibaba.

And-Ones: Adebayo, Olympics, NBA Foundation, Tsai

Although he didn’t make the final 12-man squad that took part in the 2019 World Cup, Heat center Bam Adebayo participated in Team USA’s training camp leading up to that event and received consideration to represent the U.S. in the international competition.

With the Tokyo Olympics on tap for the summer of 2021, however, another national program is hoping to recruit Adebayo away from USA Basketball, according to Colin Udoh of ESPN, who says Nigeria wants to add the big man to its Olympic roster. Adebayo’s father is Nigerian, Udoh notes.

“Having Bam in our national team is a possibility that we are considering as a federation ahead of the 2020 Olympics and beyond,” Nigeria Basketball Federation president Musa Kida said in a statement to ESPN. “We are excited about how far he has gone and what he can achieve in his career with D’Tigers if he chooses to play for Nigeria.”

Nigeria has already earned an Olympic berth and – assuming next season’s schedule allows for it – is expected to feature NBA players such as Josh Okogie, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chimezie Metu, and potentially Spencer Dinwiddie. It remains to be seen if the team will be able to land Adebayo, but he has said in the past that he’d consider Nigeria if asked. He also may be more open to the idea after being cut from last year’s Team USA roster.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA and NBPA issued a joint press release today announcing the board of directors for the NBA Foundation, a new organization dedicated to driving “economic empowerment for Black communities through employment and career advancement.” In addition to Harrison Barnes and Tobias Harris, whose involvement was previously reported, the NBA Foundation’s board of directors will be made up of Adam Silver, Michele Roberts, and four team owners (Gayle Benson, Tony Ressler, Larry Tanenbaum, and Michael Jordan).
  • As we relayed earlier today, China’s CCTV has lifted its year-long ban on NBA broadcasts, citing the league’s role in fighting COVID-19 in China as a primary reason for that decision. NetsDaily suggests Nets owner Joe Tsai may have played a key part in that effort, having sent a $3.7MM donation to China in February to help fight the pandemic.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks lists the trade assets held by all 30 teams, including moveable players, surplus draft picks, and trade exceptions.

New York Notes: Nets, Campazzo, Knicks’ Draft Options

Prior to Wednesday’s player boycott, Nets owners Clara Wu Tsai and Joe Tsai announced on Tuesday that they’re pledging $50MM to support social justice causes and economic mobility initiatives over the next 10 years. These initiatives are a part of a five-point plan, which will focus on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities in Brooklyn.

The Nets owners will also be working with the New York Liberty (WNBA) and Barclays Center to accomplish this plan of action.

“Joe and I are proud to present our statement of core principles and action plan as a continuation of our efforts to address racial injustice and economic inequality in our society,” said Clara Wu Tsai. “We plan to focus first on our organizations and our community in Brooklyn. We believe Barclays Center, the Nets, and the Liberty can be symbols of how we move forward together as a country. It is our hope to lead by example through supporting our athletes, employees, and our community in anti-racist and anti-discrimination work and providing the resources needed to accelerate change.”

Here’s more from the Big Apple:

  • In his latest mailbag, Marc Berman of The New York Post reports that the Knicks have scouted 29-year-old Argentinian point guard Facundo Campazzo and like his game. Berman notes that the former Real Madrid guard is ready to test the NBA’s waters this fall as a free agent. The Timberwolves, who have former Knick Pablo Prigioni on their coaching staff, are also among the teams interested in Campazzo.
  • Last week, the Knicks secured the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, which is tentatively scheduled for October 16. One prospect who has support within the organization at No. 8 is Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. This season, the 6’6″ small forward averaged 12.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 2.0 APG while shooting 51.4% from the field.
  • If the Knicks don’t take Okoro with the eighth overall selection in October’s draft, they could opt for Florida State’s Devin Vassell, who has some fans at Madison Square Garden, per Ian Begley of SNY. The 6’7″ guard left Tallahassee, Fla. after his sophomore season, where he posted 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game. He also shot 49% from the field and 41.5% from three-point range on 3.5 attempts per game.

Nets Owner Joe Tsai Not Involved In A-Rod, J-Lo Mets Bid

After Nets owner Joe Tsai was named as one of many high-profile sports figures attached to Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez’s bid to purchase the Mets, he denied being involved in the process on Saturday.

Sorry Twitter, it is not true,Tsai said in a tweet. “I grew up as a Mets fan and I have a lot of respect for Alex and Jennifer. But I’m not involved in bidding for the Mets. Gotta focus on basketball.”

Rodriguez and Lopez have put together a star-studded group as they attempt to acquire the MLB franchise, with multiple NBA names attached to the group. Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Nuggets big man Mason Plumlee  — who originally named Tsai as part of the group— are among those involved. Additionally, Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray are part of the bid.

Whether or not Rodriguez and Lopez are successful in their Mets venture remains to be seen. However, it appears it will be without the help of Tsai, who assumed full ownership of the Nets and Barclays Center last August.

Coronavirus Updates: Tsai, “Bubble,” Vogel, Schedule

The battle against COVID-19 in New York is getting a boost from a few NBA sources, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that Nets owner Joe Tsai is donating 1,000 ventilators to the effort.

“The Chinese government is going to facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will come into JFK today. And I want to thank Joe Tsai and Clara Tsai and Jack Ma from Alibaba, and the Nets – but I’m not stating a preference – for their donation,” Cuomo said. “That’s going to be very helpful. And I want to thank (consul General Huang Ping) very much for his help in making all of this happen, because this is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us.”

Cuomo also tweeted that the NBA is contributing one million surgical masks in collaboration with the Knicks and Nets for essential workers in the state. New York has already reported more than 113,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,000 deaths.

There’s more NBA-related news about the virus:

  • A contingency plan to finish the season in a quarantined “bubble” may be harder than it sounds, states Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports Philadelphia. He talked to Dr. Caroline Buckee, an associate professor of Epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who believes it would be too difficult to ensure that everyone who has to be involved is virus-free. “It sounds like potentially a bad idea,” she said. “I don’t think it’s realistic to completely isolate and quarantine the players. For a start, there are people who will need to clean their rooms, feed them, wash their clothes, janitorial staff and so forth. And those people will not be protected and they will be interacting with their communities. It is very difficult to truly self-isolate. Purposefully putting people at risk seems foolish.”
  • Jackie MacMullan of ESPN examines how coaches are dealing with an unprecedented situation that leaves them with no set schedule for the first time in months. “I’ve mentally flipped my seasons,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “I’m in the summer now. I really feel it’s necessary for us to mentally decompress. It’s a better mindset than trying to power through this. If we sprint through what could potentially be a two- to three-month break, with workouts and meetings and projects and film throughout, will we be fresh when it matters? We need to realize ‘when it matters’ could be July or August.”
  • Conflicts with Major League Baseball telecasts may be the biggest impediment to moving the NBA schedule back two months, observes Keith Smith of NBC Sports. Twenty-two NBA teams share a regional sports network market with MLB clubs, creating problems if both leagues have a large number of regular season games throughout spring.

Multiple NBA Teams Commit To Paying Arena Workers During Hiatus

Some of the first comments Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made on Wednesday night after the NBA announced that it had suspended the 2019/20 season were focused on the team’s part-time, seasonal, and hourly employees, such as security guards and concession workers at the American Airlines Center. Cuban made it clear that the Mavs plan to take care of those employees.

“I reached out to the folks at the arena and our folks at the Mavs to find out what it would cost to support, financially support, people who aren’t going to be able to come to work,” Cuban told reporters, per Mark Medina of USA Today. “They get paid by the hour, and this was their source of income. So, we’ll do some things there. We may ask them to go do some volunteer work in exchange, but we’ve already started the process of having a program in place. I don’t have any details to give, but it’s certainly something that’s important to me.”

Since then, a handful of other teams have followed Cuban’s lead. Hawks owner Tony Ressler had been preparing for this possibility and had planned all along to compensate the team’s full-time and part-time employees who will have their jobs disrupted by the NBA’s hiatus, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We have a pretty clear set of priorities in this kind of remarkable time that we’re living through,” Ressler said. “Protecting our fans, protecting our employees, and protecting the reputation of our league, all of which is important, but let there be no confusion, that means taking care of all of our employees, our full-time, our part-time.”

After Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie tweeted about taking care of non-salaried arena staff, team owner Joe Tsai responded that the Nets are working on a plan for those workers.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love pledged $100K of his own money to aid arena employees displaced by the NBA’s stoppage, telling ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that he hopes “others will step up” as well. The Cavs announced (via Twitter) shortly thereafter that they’d be compensating all of their arena and event staff members as if every game and event at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is still taking place.

While only a handful of teams have addressed the issue so far, I’d be surprised if that list doesn’t continue to grow in the coming days. Team owners and players will be affected financially by the suspension, but their losses likely won’t be as damaging in the short term as they would be for the lower-level employees who had been relying on the hourly wages earned at NBA events.

Nets Notes: Dinwiddie, Irving, Durant, Luxury Tax

Spencer Dinwiddie was confident last season that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were coming to Brooklyn, former Nets teammate Ed Davis tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Davis, now with the Jazz, said Dinwiddie began talking about landing the star free agents before last year’s All-Star break.

“Spence knew,” Davis said. “My locker was right next to Spencer’s too so we used to talk all the time. And he was saying that early. So we knew it was a good chance.”

Bondy notes that Dinwiddie may have diminished his own role in Brooklyn by recruiting Irving. Dinwiddie was putting up All-Star numbers while Irving was sidelined with a shoulder impingement, but they will now share playmaking duties.

“We’re just going to go with the flow,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re just going to go with whoever is hot in the moment.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Echoing comments earlier this week from general manager Sean Marks, Nets owner Joe Tsai told Brian Lewis of the New York Post that he’s willing to pay the luxury tax in order to compete for a title. “I think the fans expect that we win a championship. And the good thing is I believe that we do have the pieces in place,” Tsai said in a YES Network interview. “Now we have some injuries and people are coming back. But the fundamental pieces are in place to perhaps go all the way, so I’m absolutely comfortable that if we pay the luxury tax, that’s fine.” Lewis points out that the Nets are slightly below the $143MM cap threshold for next season, but that figures to change once they re-sign Joe Harris and fill out the roster.
  • Durant answered fans’ questions on Twitter this week about his recovery from a ruptured Achilles, Lewis adds in the same story. Durant discussed the “everyday grind” of rehab and how difficult it is to be away from the game. “It gets better everyday, but (it’s) good to have patience,” he tweeted.
  • Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot returns to Philadelphia tonight in a stable situation for the first time since the Sixers traded him in 2018, observes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Luwawu-Cabarrot is on a two-way contract with Brooklyn and has helped the team stay afloat through injuries. He has about a week left on his 45-day NBA limit, leaving the Nets with a decision about whether to give him a standard contract to keep him on the main roster.

Latest On NBA/China Controversy

As first reported by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, there’s a growing concern that the exhibition games between the Lakers and Nets scheduled to take place in China on Thursday and Saturday this week will be cancelled as a result of tension between the NBA and the Chinese government.

As we’ve outlined in a series of stories, that tension stems from a tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors which was published – and quickly deleted – by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. Since then, the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver have backed Morey’s freedom of expression, which has upset the league Chinese partners. The NBA has lost sponsors in China, while streaming company Tencent has suspended its broadcasts of all Rockets games and Chinese state-run TV network CCTV has said it won’t show this week’s Lakers/Nets exhibitions.

Of course, as noted above, there are an increasing number of signs that those games won’t actually take place. After an NBA Cares event with the Nets in Shanghai on Tuesday was cancelled by the Chinese government, a similar event with the Lakers was nixed on Wednesday, per an ESPN report. Additionally, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (video link) observes that banners advertising the Lakers/Nets games are being taken down in Shanghai.

Lakers and Nets players were scheduled to speak to reporters early this morning , but an NBA spokesperson announced that the media availability would be postponed, given the fluid nature of the situation, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

Here are a few more items on the NBA/China controversy:

  • After issuing an open letter earlier this week that was met with some criticism stateside for echoing language used by the Chinese government, Nets owner Joe Tsai briefly spoke to The New York Post and Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. Tsai, who said he’s in the “eye of the storm” as he tries to help the NBA and China resolve the issue, noted that his role is to help both sides understand the other’s perspective. “What I’m simply pointing out is how mainland China feels about this issue,” Tsai said of his open letter. “It’s definitely a third-rail issue for Chinese people on the mainland.”
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich lauded Adam Silver for his comments on Tuesday in which he supported Daryl Morey‘s right to freedom of expression, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “It wasn’t easy for him to say,” Popovich said. “He said that in an environment fraught with possible economic peril. But he sided with the principles that we all hold dearly, or most of us did until the last three years. So I’m thrilled with what he said.”
  • When NBA players arrive in China, they’re generally treated like rock stars, but that hasn’t been the case for the Lakers this week, according to Tania Ganguli and Alice Su of The Los Angeles Times. As the Times duo writes, the Lakers were greeted with little fanfare when they landed in Shanghai, and have seen their plans for the week become “completely disheveled” as a result of the controversy.