Joe Tsai

Nets Owner Tsai Publicly Supports Marks, Nash

Nets owner Joe Tsai went on social media Monday night to declare his support for the team’s front office and coaching staff, apparently closing the door on the possibility of Kevin Durant wearing a Brooklyn uniform again.

On his Twitter account, Tsai stated “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Tsai met with the disgruntled superstar forward in London on Saturday. Earlier on Monday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Durant reiterated his trade request at that meeting, declaring he would only withdraw it if Tsai fired general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash. Durant, who is entering the first year of a four-year max extension, told Tsai that he doesn’t have faith in the team’s direction.

It would have been stunning for an owner to bend to his superstar’s wishes and fire the GM and coach, then essentially let the player pick the replacements. So Tsai’s decision to publicly back Marks and Nash isn’t surprising.

The franchise’s approach to Durant’s trade request remains to be seen. There’s speculation that Durant made the ultimatum to put pressure on the front office to lower its trade demands. It’s also uncertain whether Durant will show up if he’s still on the roster during training camp.

Nets’ Durant Reportedly Reiterates Trade Request, Gives Tsai Ultimatum

In a face-to-face meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai in London on Saturday, star forward Kevin Durant reiterated his desire to be traded and gave Tsai an ultimatum, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, Durant told the Nets owner that he needs to choose between trading him or firing general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash. Durant said that he doesn’t have faith in the team’s direction, sources tell The Athletic.

Charania says his sources described Saturday’s meeting as “transparent and professional,” adding that the Nets have “direct knowledge of the reasons behind Durant’s request” and have reason to believe he’ll be resolute in his stance. People around the NBA have speculated about the possibility that the two-time Finals MVP won’t report to training camp if the Nets don’t make a deal within the next seven weeks, per Charania.

Sources tell The Athletic that Brooklyn has spoken to nearly every team in the NBA about a possible Durant trade, but no club has met the Nets’ “sky-high” asking price. According to Charania, the Celtics, Heat, and Raptors are widely viewed as the most legitimate suitors for the 33-year-old, who is entering the first season of a four-year, maximum-salary extension.

Charania cites sources who say that Tsai and the Nets have “made clear privately that they will take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant.” However, it’s hard to see how the team has the leverage to make that sort of deal, given these latest developments in the summer saga.

Of course, Marks and Nash held their current positions when Durant signed that four-year extension a year ago, and the star forward was believed to have played a role in Nash’s hiring in the first place, back in 2020. It’s unclear why Durant has soured to such a significant extent on Brooklyn’s leadership group.

It’s possible Durant’s dissatisfaction is related, at least in part, to the team’s handling of his good friend Kyrie Irving. The Nets refused to allow Irving to be a part-time player during the first half of last season when vaccine requirements prohibited him from playing home games. The club then opted against offering Kyrie a lucrative long-term extension this offseason.

While recent reports have indicated that Irving plans to be a Net to start the 2022/23 season, there’s a belief that Brooklyn will seriously consider trading him if and when the team finds a Durant deal it likes.

Kevin Durant To Meet With Nets Owner Joe Tsai?

It has been over a month since star forward Kevin Durant requested a trade out of Brooklyn, and with no indication that any deal is imminent, Steve Bulpett of cites a source who says a meeting between Durant and Nets owner Joe Tsai is expected to take place in the coming days.

“What I’m hearing is that KD is going to meet with the owner this week,” Bulpett’s source said. “He’s going to go directly to the owner, Joe Tsai, sometime this week. We’ll see how that works.”

Assuming that meeting takes place, it’s unclear what would come of it. It’s possible Durant wants to reiterate his request to be moved and to check in on where things stand. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that he could back off that trade request if he gets certain assurances from Tsai and the Nets.

“I have no idea what’s going to come of that meeting,” the source told Bulpett. “There are some things that KD is unhappy about, and I’m not sure any of that gets fixed here. But maybe it does.”

The most recent solid rumor we heard related to the Durant sweepstakes surfaced last Monday, when ESPN and The Athletic reported that the Celtics had talked to the Nets about a possible deal and had been willing to include Jaylen Brown in their offer. Subsequent reporting has suggested that the offer in question was weeks old, and Bulpett says some of his sources have pushed back against the notion that it was ever really on the table.

The fact that the Celtics’ interest – and Brown’s potential availability – leaked at all didn’t sit well with some people around the NBA, one personnel executive from another club told Bulpett.

“I think there’s some teams that aren’t very happy that when they talk to Brooklyn it gets in the papers,” the executive said. “That doesn’t help. I’ve talked with a couple of teams that are not happy with the rumors that creep out of there through all this. It’s not a good way to do business.”

The exec added that he the Celtics and Nets “haven’t had any conversations for a while” and expressed skepticism that the two teams will get a deal done, according to Bulpett.

Atlantic Notes: Achiuwa, Irving, Embiid, Sixers

Precious Achiuwa could be a strong candidate for Most Improved Player next season, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said in a recent appearance on the Rapcity Keleten-Nyugaton podcast (hat tip to Aaron Rose of All Raptors).

“Wait till this year because every time I see him this summer on the court it’s total focus, total intensity,” Nurse said. “I mean, something happened to him where he now understands what playing in the NBA is about and he is on a mission.”

The 22-year-old center got off to a rough start in his first season with Toronto, but he seemed like a different player after the All-Star break. He averaged 12.2 points per game over the last part of the season and shot 39% from three-point range.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There may be a thaw in the relationship between Nets management and Kyrie Irving, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Lewis notes that owner Joe Tsai recently retweeted a post praising Irving after the paper reported that he plans to play the upcoming season in Brooklyn. Tsai retweeted another post related to the “NYC Point Gods” documentary that suggested Irving would have excelled in the old era of New York City playgrounds and added the word “truth.” Irving responded with a video of burning sage, which is used by Native Americans to get rid of negative energy.
  • Thumb and finger surgery prevented Sixers center Joel Embiid from playing for the French national team this summer, per Basket News. Former NBA player Boris Diaw, who serves as general manager for the French team, said Embiid is in the process of being registered as a player for the national team. “His request for naturalization has been accepted,” Diaw said. “We know that he’s still waiting for the French passport. When he obtains it, then he can start the process and apply for a FIBA license for the national team.” Embiid is expected to make his debut with France during the 2023 World Cup.
  • Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice examines the options for the Sixers‘ fifth starter and compares how the team would look with P.J. Tucker, Danuel House, Matisse Thybulle or De’Anthony Melton in a starting role alongside Embiid, James Harden, Tobias Harris, and Tyrese Maxey.

Eastern Notes: Cavs, Rubio, Tsai, Bucks, Papagiannis, Bridges

The Cavaliersagreement with Ricky Rubio remains flexible and could eventually become a sign-and-trade with the Pacers, sources tell Chris Fedor of Rubio, who suffered a torn left ACL last December, isn’t expected to be able to play for the first two or three months of the season, so the Cavs want to explore other point guard options.

If they do a sign-and-trade with Rubio, they’d be able to use their $10.4MM mid-level exception to address that area, and Fedor suggests that another signing could be reported sometime this weekend.

Bringing back Rubio was “Plan A” for the team, Fedor adds, after he helped fuel a surprising rise to contention last season. Serving as a veteran component in a young backcourt, Rubio averaged 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 34 games before the injury. Cleveland was 20-14 with Rubio last season, but only 24-24 when he didn’t play.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Nets owner Joe Tsai is fed up with the drama surrounding the organization and won’t mind parting with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Vardon notes that Tsai has been willing to pay the luxury tax in the three seasons since Durant and Irving arrived, but he hasn’t gotten much in return, with just one playoff series win in that time. Other distractions, such as the coaching change involving Kenny Atkinson, the trades to acquire and then unload James Harden, the addition of Ben Simmons when he wasn’t ready to play, and Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated have all tested Tsai’s patience, Vardon adds.
  • The Bucks have some interest in former first-round pick Georgios Papagiannis, tweets Dionysis Aravantinos of HoopsHype. The Greek center fizzled out quickly after being selected at No. 13 in the 2016 draft — playing 38 games for the Kings and one for the Trail Blazers — but he has been a star in Europe, earning a spot on the All-EuroLeague Second Team this year. Papagiannis is still under contract to Panathinaikos, so Milwaukee would have to arrange a buyout, but Aravantinos doesn’t see that as an obstacle.
  • The wife of Hornets forward Miles Bridges has posted several photographs showing injuries that she says were caused when he attacked her this week, as Amy Woodyatt and Jacob Lev of CNN write. Bridges was arrested on Wednesday and charged with felony domestic violence. His next court date is scheduled for July 20, per CNN’s report.

Atlantic Notes: Tsai, Irving, Nets, Celtics, Thybulle

As of Thursday night, Nets owner Joe Tsai was supporting general manager Sean Marks‘ decision not to offer Kyrie Irving a max extension, according to Ian Begley of Irving has until June 29 to decide whether to exercise his $36.9MM player option for next season, and the two sides seem to be far apart in negotiations on an extension.

Should Irving leave, it could prompt Kevin Durant to further consider his situation with the Nets, as we previously relayed. Irving didn’t get vaccinated this season, so he only appeared in 29 games due to New York City’s vaccine requirement. He averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists during those outings, shooting 47%.

We have more notes from the Atlantic Division to pass along:

Nets Notes: Irving, Tsai, Brown, Simmons

The Nets won’t have much leverage in negotiations with Kyrie Irving if he decides to opt out of his contract for next season and seek a five-year maximum deal worth nearly $250MM, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. The option year was used to attract Irving in 2019 when he came to Brooklyn along with Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan to turn around a struggling franchise.

However, the results have been mixed over the the past three years, with just one playoff series win and several incidents that call into question the wisdom of a long-term deal for Irving, who played just 29 games this season because of his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Deveney expects the Nets to drop public hints that they’re unsure about giving Irving a full max contract, hoping to convince him to opt in for next season or negotiate an extension for less money. However, Deveney believes Irving’s representatives would see that as a bluff and would insist on getting maximum value.

Brooklyn officials have a pattern of allowing Irving to do whatever he wants, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said in an appearance this week on “NBA Today” (video link). He points out that the team was originally unwilling to accept Irving as a part-time player and got off to a 21-9 start without him. The trajectory of the season changed when the front office reversed that decision.

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets and Barclays Center suffered losses this season estimated between $50MM and $100MM, a source tells Brian Lewis of The New York Post. That led owner Joe Tsai to force out John Abbamondi, the CEO of Brooklyn Sports Entertainment, which oversees both operations, and he’s now seeking his third top executive in less than three years. Although the Nets set records for attendance, they don’t have enough other revenue to support their $174MM payroll.
  • After a strong second half and an impressive performance in the playoffs, Bruce Brown may be able to land a contract starting in the $8-10MM range, Lewis adds in a separate story. Brown will be an unrestricted free agent after accepting the team’s $4.7MM qualifying offer last summer.
  • Brooklyn may have no other choice than to keep Ben Simmons and see how he can fit into the team next season, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Teams were hesitant to make offers to the Sixers prior to the deadline, and there are even more doubts about Simmons’ condition after he failed to play at all for the Nets.

Nets Notes: Irving, Brown, Simmons, Draft Picks, Durant, Nash

After the Nets got swept out of the playoffs by the Celtics on Monday night, Kyrie Irving said he plans on remaining in Brooklyn. Irving can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his $36.9MM option. Whether he opts in or negotiates a new free agent contract, Irving doesn’t see himself playing elsewhere, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets.

“In terms of my extension, man, I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” he said. “So this is just added motivation for our franchise to be at the top of the league for the next few years.”

Irving made an eyebrow-raising comment that he and Kevin Durant will essentially work in tandem with owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks to improve the team, Scott Cacciola of the New York Times tweets.

“When I say I’m here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe and Sean,” he said.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Swingman Bruce Brown is heading toward unrestricted free agency and was noncommittal about his plans, Lewis tweets. The Nets hold his Bird rights. “The season just ended; I’m not thinking about it,” Brown said. “If there’s a chance to stay, we’ll talk about it. But we’ll see.”
  • Ben Simmons wasn’t even at the arena when the Nets’ season ended. After promising reports that he’d make his team debut on Monday, Simmons didn’t play due to “physical and mental issues.” He wasn’t in the building due to his back ailment, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • Some league executives are skeptical of Simmons’ mental health claims, according to Steve Bulpett of “To me, that’s the only untouchable excuse that they could have to get his money back (from the Sixers),” a source told Bulpett. There’s also skepticism that any head coach can get through to him. “He’s been enabled his entire life. He’s very aloof,” the source told Bulpett. “He’s a great player, but it’s all the extra stuff that no one’s held him accountable for, that’s just made it difficult.”
  • The Nets hold the Sixers’ 2022 and 2027 first-round picks and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski believes there’s a good chance they’ll move them to upgrade the roster, relays. “Ultimately, they may never use a player from those draft picks. They’re going to be trade assets,” he said.
  • Durant said coach Steve Nash remains the right man for the job, Lewis tweets. “Steve has been dealt a crazy hand the last two years, he’s been having to deal with so much stuff as a head coach for the first time, COVID, trades,” Durant said. “I’m proud of his passion for us.”

Nets Notes: Simmons, Durant, Nash, Irving, Harden, Tsai

As we relayed on Thursday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during a TV appearance that Ben Simmons is aiming to return between Games 4 and 6 of the Nets‘ first-round series vs. the Celtics — Shams Charania of The Athletic later echoed that report (via Twitter).

However, despite the apparent optimism about Simmons’ playoff availability, Nets forward Kevin Durant isn’t counting on the three-time All-Star to play in the Boston series, telling reporters on Thursday that he doesn’t want to put any extra expectations on his new teammate.

“No, I’m not expecting him to play,” Durant said, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “That’s easier for me. I’m not putting any pressure on Ben to come out and hoop. I’m not expecting him to do anything except get his body right and get healthy as fast as he can. I’m preparing as if we’re playing with the team we have.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Although the Nets’ 44-38 record this season fell fall short of their preseason projections, head coach Steve Nash shouldn’t shoulder the blame for the fact that the team ended up outside of the East’s top six, according to Durant. “I think he’s done a great job. The last two years, he’s been dealt a wild hand,” Durant said of Nash, per Ian Begley of “Injuries, trades, disgruntled players, guys in and out of the lineup, stuff that he can’t control. … This is his first real opportunity as a coach, so I think he’s handled it all perfectly to be honest with you.”
  • Since arriving in Brooklyn in 2019, Kyrie Irving has appeared in just 103 of 226 total regular season games due to injuries, sabbaticals, and his vaccine-related ineligibility. Ahead of Irving’s potential free agency, the 2022 playoffs will go a long way toward determining whether the mercurial guard has been worth the trouble for the Nets, argues Ian O’Connor of The New York Post.
  • Speaking to Zion Olojede of, former Net guard James Harden said there were “a lot of ups and downs” during his time in Brooklyn leading up his trade to Philadelphia. “I think my happiness is the most important thing, so I had to make the best decision for myself and for my family,” Harden said.
  • In an interesting report for, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru take a deep dive into Joe Tsai‘s business ties to – and occasional defenses of – the Chinese government and explore how the Nets owner has become the face of the NBA’s uneasy relationship with China.

Harden Directly Asked Nets’ Marks, Tsai For Trade To Sixers

For much of the 2021/22 season, Nets guard James Harden insisted during conversations with general manager Sean Marks and team owner Joe Tsai that he wanted to remain in Brooklyn beyond this season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne (Insider link). And initially, signing a long-term deal with Brooklyn was Harden’s preferred option, since he could always force a trade down the road if he needed to.

However, as the season progressed, Harden began talking to various player agents to get advice about how best to make his way to Philadelphia, according to ESPN’s duo. As Wojnarowski and Shelburne detail, the Nets would often quickly learn what Harden – who has a reputation for being passive-aggressive rather than confrontational and was worried about the optics of making another trade request – was saying to agents and other third parties.

Finally, with the trade deadline fast approaching, Harden directly told Marks and Tsai that he would prefer to play for the Sixers, asking the GM and team owner on a FaceTime call to send him to Philadelphia, sources tell ESPN.

The Nets told him they would only make a deal if it was a good one for the organization, which Harden understood. While the two sides agreed at that point that Harden wouldn’t play until after Thursday’s deadline, the former MVP appeared to have already checked out on the team, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, who say Harden informed management he was headed to Houston on Wednesday to wait out the deadline.

Here’s more from Wojnarowski and Shelburne on the Harden/Ben Simmons blockbuster:

  • Marks and Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey engaged in plenty of posturing in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline before eventually getting more serious late on Wednesday night, sources tell ESPN. Up until that point, Marks had listened to a couple of Morey’s trade pitches, but rebuffed them.
  • According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, when the two sides reengaged and eventually neared the finish line on Thursday, Marks told Morey he needed to hang up the phone to run the proposed deal by Tsai, prompting Morey to yell, “Stay on the f—ing phone!” Marks jokingly replied, “We’re dropping F-Bombs now, Daryl?” He ultimately got Tsai’s approval to move forward on the trade.
  • Simmons’ agent Rich Paul met with Nets star Kevin Durant and Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman nearly a month ago and pitched the idea of a Harden/Simmons swap, per Wojnarowski and Shelburne. Durant initially wasn’t interested in the idea, but the equation changed after he injured his knee and Harden became increasingly disengaged during his absence.
  • Harden doesn’t have a direct history with Sixers star Joel Embiid, but has always been a fan of the center and pushed Morey to trade for him when they were both in Houston, according to ESPN’s duo. “James respects players who do a good job defending him,” one source said. “And Joel has always done that.”
  • Although Simmons never got over what he viewed as a lack of public support from head coach Doc Rivers following last spring’s playoff loss to the Hawks, the two men had been speaking again in recent weeks, with conversations “increasing in substance,” per Woj and Shelburne. However, their final conversation on Thursday was mostly just an exchanging of pleasantries, sources tell ESPN.