Joseph Tsai

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Tsai, Sixers, J. Brown

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who is entering the final year of his contract, suggested last week that he’d love to remain in Toronto beyond the 2019/20 season and would have interest in signing an extension with the team. However, Eric Koreen of The Athletic believes it’s unlikely that Lowry and the Raptors will find common ground on a new deal before he reaches free agency next summer.

As Koreen explains, Lowry projects to be one of the very best free agents on the market next offseason, particularly if Anthony Davis re-ups with the Lakers. He’s also a five-time All-Star who just helped lead the Raptors to a championship. In other words, he’ll likely be expecting another big payday.

On the other hand, the Raptors are entering a transition year and are still trying to figure out what their post-Kawhi Leonard future might look like. With barely any guaranteed money on the books for next season, Toronto may prefer to maintain its flexibility rather than entering into a new agreement with Lowry right away.

Plus, with Lowry set to turn 34 during the 2019/20 season, it’s not clear how heavily the Raptors would be willing to invest in him going forward. While a contract extension is still a possibility, Koreen wouldn’t be surprised if those discussions are “put on hold for a while.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With the Nets swapping one wealthy foreign owner for another, Brian Lewis of The New York Post suggests that the team’s willingness to spend won’t change much as Joseph Tsai takes the reins from Mikhail Prokhorov. However, Lewis expects Tsai to be far more visible around the Nets and the NBA than Prokhorov had been in recent years.
  • In his latest mailbag for The Athletic, Derek Bodner explores the likelihood of the Sixers bringing draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic stateside at some point, weighs the team’s ability to make another big splash on the trade market, and addresses a handful of other 76ers-related topics.
  • After being a full-time starter for the Celtics in 2017/18, Jaylen Brown started just 25 of his 74 contests last season and saw his playing time reduced by nearly five minutes per game. Appearing on this week’s episode of The Michael Holley Podcast, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge praised Brown for the way he responded. “He might have handled a difficult situation better than anybody on our team last year,” Ainge said (per Dave Green of NBC Sports Boston). “Very mature kid, wants to be great, knows that his time is coming.”

Joseph Tsai Finalizes Deal To Assume Full Ownership Of Nets, Barclays Center

Nets minority shareholder Joseph Tsai has formally entered into an agreement with majority shareholder Mikhail Prokhorov to purchase full ownership of the franchise, the Nets confirmed today in a press release. As part of the deal, Prokhorov will also sell full ownership of the Barclays Center to Tsai.

The NBA’s Board of Governors still must officially approve the transaction, but that’s considered a mere formality. Tsai has long been expected to assume full ownership of the Nets since he bought a 49% stake in the team in April 2018. According to the press release, the arena and team sales are expected to close by the end of September.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago,” Tsai said in a statement. “He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank. I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”

According to reports from NetsDaily (Twitter link) and Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg, the total valuation for the Nets and the Barclays Center is $3.5 billion. The team – without the arena – was initially valued as $2.35 billion when Tsai bought his 49% stake last year.

Prokhorov will make out particularly well in the deal. When he assumed full ownership of the Nets and their arena in 2015, the team was valued at $875MM and the arena was valued at $825MM, for a total of $1.7 billion. The new total valuation of $3.5 billion is more than double that amount.

As we relayed on Thursday night, Nets CEO Brett Yormark is stepping down as team ownership changes hands. In their press release, the Nets confirmed that Yormark will oversee the transition to new ownership before “departing for a new role.”

Tsai, the co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, who is reportedly worth an estimated $9.9 billion, is expected to help the NBA grow its presence in China. He appears to have invested in the Nets at the right time — when he initially bought his 49% share last April, the team was coming off a 28-54 performance. The club boosted that mark to 42-40 last season, then made a huge splash in free agency by signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Nets CEO Brett Yormark Stepping Down

Brett Yormark, the lead executive for both the Nets and Barclays Center, is stepping down as the team’s top executive ahead of an impending ownership change that will see Taiwanese businessman Joseph Tsai become the franchise’s owner, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.

According to Soshnick, Yormark will announce that he’s resigning as CEO of BSE Global, the Nets’ parent company, tomorrow morning.
Yormark was an important figure in the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012 and the development of Barclays Center. For the past seven years, he has presided over all facets of the team and Barclays Center, including operations, events, sales and marketing.
Soshnick also notes that Yormark departing alongside current majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov makes sense because of how much Prokhorov entrusted operations to Yormark. It’s unclear whether Tsai, who will likely want his own team put into place, would have given Yormark the control he desired.

Joseph Tsai To Buy Rest Of Nets From Mikhail Prokhorov

Nets minority shareholder Joseph Tsai, who currently owns 49% of the franchise, is set to assume control of the remaining 51% earlier than expected, according to Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

As Kosman and Lewis report, Tsai is close to signing a deal to complete the purchase that will give him full control of the Nets. The move is expected to be announced next week, according to The Post.

When Tsai first bought a 49% stake in the Nets in April 2018, Mikhail Prokhorov retained control of the remaining 51% with an understanding that Tsai would have the option to buy him out within three years. It appears that buyout will happen just 16 months later.

At the time of Tsai’s initial purchase, the Nets were given a valuation of $2.35 billion, with Tsai paying $1 billion for his 49% stake. As Kosman and Lewis confirm, the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba will pay $1.35 billion for the other 51%. The total cost of $2.35 billion will mark the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise, according to The Post.

Tsai, who is worth an estimated $9.9 billion, is also in talks to purchase the Barclays Center, as Kosman and Lewis note. The native of Taiwan is a member of NBA China and is expected to help the league grow its presence in China.

Tsai appears to have bought into the Nets at the right time — when he completed his initial purchase, the team was coming off a 28-54 performance. The club boosted that mark to 42-40 last season, then made a huge splash in free agency by signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Joe Tsai Talks Decision To Buy Nets Over Rockets

Joe Tsai bought 49% of the Nets last year and has the rights to assume majority control of the team in 2021. The billionaire businessman had an opportunity to instead make a play for the Rockets, but he ultimately took the deal with Mikhail Prokhorov because of his love for the City of New York, as he tells Paul Carcaterra of US Lacrosse Magazine (h/t Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“At the same time the Nets were up for sale…the owners of the Houston Rockets also put the team up for sale. We thought about it, but we decided to put the focus on the Nets because I just couldn’t imagine myself spending too much [time] in Houston,” said Tsai. “No knock on Houston, but I love New York. And owning a sports team, especially in a major league like the NBA, it’s like owning a nice apartment on Park Avenue: The value’s not going to go down.

“From a business standpoint, it made a lot of sense. Then, I was looking at the upside. The NBA and basketball is a very, very big sport globally. Everywhere, people love the NBA, especially in China. I was seeing how the people loved the sport in China. Also, in Southeast Asia, in the Philippines, they love basketball. Indonesia. Even Mexico; that’s going to be a big market. So there’s a lot of international expansion opportunities. So it all made sense.”

Tsai, who is the executive vice chairman of online retailer Alibaba, believes the players and owners each receive a “fair share” of the revenue in the NBA. He also views the league’s TV deal – specifically how the revenue is split evenly between all 30 teams – as a major positive, calling it “kind of a socialist system.”

“So as we peeled through the materials, the more we looked at it —this is really more specific to the NBA — the NBA is really interesting from a business standpoint. You have a very good system to share the economics between the owners and the players,” Tsai said. “The players are very, very important. In any sport, without the talent — the players — you’re not going to have a good team and you’re not going to have fans. So they’re very, very important.

Tsai also owns the WNBA’S New York Liberty, which he purchased earlier this year. Last year, he aligned with Sixers owner Michael Rubin among others in an attempt to buy the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, though the group’s bid was not successful.

Nets Notes: Free Agency, Dudley, Russell, Tsai

The Nets‘ 2018/19 campaign came to an end on Tuesday night, as the club lost its fourth straight game to the Sixers and dropped the series by a 4-1 margin. Still, the season has to be considered a success for Brooklyn, a team that wasn’t expected to make the playoffs coming into the year. The Nets’ unexpected postseason berth figures to be one of the franchise’s many selling points as it pursues top free agents this summer, writes Seerat Sohi of Yahoo Sports.

The Nets will have a handful of their own free agents to make decisions on as well, but role players like Jared Dudley recognize that they won’t necessarily be the club’s top priority in July. Dudley, at least, is okay with that, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays.

“I loved my New York situation here. … I’d have no problem coming back here. I don’t say that on every exit interview,” Dudley said. “Brooklyn has to do what’s best for them. If I’m them, I’m going big-game hunting for the big fish, then you can fall in line.”

Here’s more on the Nets as their offseason begins:

  • League sources have intimated that D’Angelo Russell will be seeking a maximum-salary contract as a restricted free agent, according to Lewis. It’s not yet known if the Nets will be willing to go that high, or if they’ll be forced to by a rival offer sheet. However, Russell told Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News this week that “everybody is on the same page” regarding his free agency.
  • Nets GM Sean Marks wasn’t the only one to face discipline as a result of his decision to enter the referees’ locker room after the club’s Game 4 loss over the weekend. Brooklyn minority owner Joseph Tsai was fined $35K for tweeting support for Marks (link via The Associated Press). “My partners and I have spoken and the entire Nets ownership group support our GM Sean Marks for protesting the wrong calls and missed calls,” Tsai wrote. “NBA rules are rules and we respect that, but our players and fans expect things to be fair.”
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Michael Scotto spoke to executives, agents, and players about the pros and cons of the contrasting rebuilding models employed by the Nets and Sixers.
  • The trade that sent Jeremy Lin to Atlanta last summer was viewed primarily as a salary dump for the Nets, but the club also acquired the rights to draft-and-stash prospect Isaia Cordinier in the swap. NetsDaily explores whether Cordinier could become a sneaky-useful asset for Brooklyn.

Joe Tsai In Talks To Buy Barclays Center, Become Nets’ Majority Owner

Nets minority stakeholder Joseph Tsai is in talks to buy the Barclays Center in Brooklyn – as well as the new Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale – from controlling owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Josh Kosman and Brett Cyrgalis of The New York Post report.

According to Kosman and Cyrgalis, those negotiations are expected to clear a path for Tsai to take over as the Nets’ majority owner, since the NBA likes its team owners to control the arena where the club plays.

Tsai officially purchased a 49% stake in the Nets from Prokhorov about a year ago for $1 billion, and that deal included language that will allow Tsai to buy the rest of the team in 2021 for $1.35 billion. However, as Kosman and Cyrgalis confirm, there’s nothing stopping Prokhorov from selling his share of the club to Tsai ahead of schedule.

According to the Post’s report, the NBA would fully embrace a sale to Tsai, since the league recognizes he’ll be able to help grow the sport and the NBA’s brand in China — he’s already a member of NBA China despite not yet owning the Nets. One source tells Kosman and Cyrgalis that the league “would be ecstatic” if Tsai assumes control of the franchise.

While it’s not clear what sort of timeline we should expect for Tsai to take over the Barclays Center and the Nets, the negotiations shouldn’t have to be contentious. Brian Lewis of The New York Post wrote last month that Prokhorov and Tsai have maintained a good relationship, with Brooklyn GM Sean Marks praising the duo’s willingness to “collaborate.”

Atlantic Notes: Meeks, Baynes, Nets, Jenkins

Jodie Meeks played in an NBA game on Sunday for the first time in approximately 10 months, making his first appearance as a member of the Raptors. The veteran shooting guard was hit with a 25-game suspension at the end of last season for violating the league’s anti-drug program, was traded from the Wizards to the Bucks in the offseason, and was ultimately cut by Milwaukee. Meeks didn’t get another NBA offer until last week, when the Raptors signed him to a 10-day contract.

“When I got the call this past week, I was really excited and knew that I was ready for the opportunity,” Meeks said, per Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca. “I’m just looking at it as a chance to prove myself again. I’m trying not to look at it as a 10-day. Don’t put any pressure on yourself — just go out there and play hard. Just come in ready when your number’s called, like any other player on this team. (The Raptors) have treated me very well here. I know I’ve only been here a few days, but it’s a first-class organization. I hope to stay.”

Meeks made a good first impression with the Raptors on Sunday, scoring 10 points and making a pair of three-pointers in 17 minutes off the bench. His 10-day deal will expire this Friday night, but if he keeps knocking down shots, he should get another opportunity in Toronto or elsewhere.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • It has been a frustrating season for Celtics center Aron Baynes, who has been slowed by foot and hand injuries over the course of the year, as ESPN’s Kevin Pelton details. While Baynes will face a decision this offseason on his $5.45MM player option for 2019/20, his focus for now is on getting healthy and helping the C’s make a deep playoff run.
  • An agreement between Mikhail Prokhorov and Joseph Tsai, which will allow Tsai to eventually assume controlling ownership of the Nets, had significant potential for disharmony, but has been a success so far, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s probably one of the greatest things about [them], and a credit to Mikhail and Joe. I haven’t noticed a differing of opinions. Both collaborate,” Nets GM Sean Marks said of the ownership situation. “I collaborate with them a lot. There’s no surprises.”
  • John Jenkins, who inked a rest-of-season contract with the Knicks last week, is thrilled that he was able to parlay a 10-day deal into a longer-term commitment, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It’s all I could ask for coming in on a 10-day and getting an opportunity to succeed,” Jenkins said. “I’m thankful, grateful, extremely happy. All the hard work I’ve put in, and sacrifice, all paying off at the perfect time.”

Nets Notes: Tsai, Faried, Russell

Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai has officially completed the purchase of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the league announced today in a press release. The franchise was previously controlled by Knicks owner James Dolan.

“We are fortunate to welcome Joe Tsai to the WNBA family at a pivotal time for our league,” interim WNBA president Mark Tatum said in a statement. “We thank Jim Dolan and The Madison Square Garden Company for their incredible support of the WNBA over the past 22 years and for their commitment to finding the right owner for the Liberty. As active participants in the New York community, Joe and his team are very well-positioned to take the Liberty to exciting new heights.”

Tsai’s investment in the city’s WNBA franchise is the latest signal of his commitment to New York basketball. While Tsai is technically only a minority stakeholder in the Nets for the time being, he owns 49% of the franchise and his agreement with Mikhail Prokhorov will give him the opportunity to assume controlling interest in the team by 2021.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Although Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson consistently praised Kenneth Faried‘s attitude and work ethic during the big man’s time in Brooklyn, Faried called his Nets tenure “frustrating” and felt that the club wasn’t being straight with him, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News relays. Faried said he got the impression that the Nets didn’t trust him, and eventually decided he’d welcome a move. “That was the perception. The, ‘I don’t know you yet,'” he said. “A lot of beating around the bush as to why they wouldn’t play me. So it was like, if we figure something out then let’s immediately make that move. Because I don’t want to hinder y’all, and y’all hindering my career, pretty much.”
  • With restricted free agency looming this summer, D’Angelo Russell is playing the best basketball of his career, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. That’s an opinion shared by both Russell and his head coach. “He’s playing at an All-Star level, quite honestly,” Atkinson said. “And physically he looks great. I told him, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it, because you look fast, you look recovered, you look spry.'”
  • While the Nets don’t have the Knicks’ history and don’t play in the world’s most famous arena, Brooklyn is establishing itself as an appealing free agent destination, opines Newsday columnist Barbara Barker.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Kurucs, McCaw, Tsai

Kristaps Porzingis has missed nearly an entire calendar year since he suffered a torn ACL but his recovery is going well, Newsday’s Steve Popper writes. The Latvian is expected to miss the Knicks‘ four-day trip to London next week when the team faces the Wizards, but Porzingis’ recent practices have been encouraging.

“I don’t see a drop,” head coach David Fizdale said. “That I don’t see. I haven’t seen him move in a way that makes me go “uh-oh.” I think we’re going about it the right way. His body looks great. He looks strong, he’s defined. It’s just a matter of time, and when we get him, we’ll be happy.”

As we relayed on Friday, Porzingis has passed the point of meeting the starter criteria for restricted free agency this summer. Thus, the Knicks’ qualifying offer drops from $7.5MM to $4.5MM. His cap hold will be $17.1MM and he will qualify for a $158MM contract over five years with a starting salary set at $27.25MM.

The Knicks, currently 10-32 in the Eastern Conference, are setting themselves up for a top-five draft pick this summer. A healthy Porzingis would go a long way to helping New York compete next season.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Fellow Latvian Rodions Kurucs has fared well for the Nets after being selected 40th overall in the second round this past summer. Kurucs has been solid on both sides of the ball and eclipsed both his and the team’s expectations, Chris Milholen and Net Income of NetsDaily write.
  • Patrick McCaw‘s first few months of the season have been eventful. He sat out the start of the year as he looked to maximize his earnings from the Warriors as an RFA, then signed an offer sheet with Cleveland. However, days later, the Cavaliers waived him. After signing with the Raptors, he’s thrilled with the new opportunity, Laura Armstrong of The Toronto Star writes.
  • Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai is reportedly close to acquiring the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the AP’s Doug Fienberg reports. Tsai purchased 49% of the Nets in April 2018 and the James Dolan-owned Liberty — which were placed for sale in November 2017 — are close to being added to his portfolio.