Joseph Tsai

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.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, DeRozan/Lowry, Tsai, Mitchell

Joel Embiid made his on-court return for the Sixers’ Game 3 first-round series matchup against the Heat. It was Embiid’s first game since March 28, when he suffered an orbital fracture in his left eye and a concussion. To prevent further injury, Embiid sported a league-approved protective mask, which involved a lot of effort to construct, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne details.

A battery of tests was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania to make sure the mask would protect Embiid’s injured face. Shelburne writes that a “group of independent doctors from the league spent the past 10 days agonizing” about the mask and its safety. Embiid’s agent even reached out to retired NBA champion Richard Hamilton, who was famous for wearing a mask during his career.

“They [the Sixers] did everything possible,” Embiid said. “They were like throwing stuff at it to make sure it could withstand it.”

Check out more notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • By their own admission, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have gone from not speaking to being the closest of the friends. As the Raptors hold a 2-1 series lead over the Wizards, the only goal their goal is to bring a championship to Canada, the duo said to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an in-depth interview.
  • The Knicks have received some heat for passing on Donovan Mitchell in last year’s draft. Former Knick David Lee recalled Mitchell attending his annual camp in Chappaqua, New York, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.
  • Joe Tsai agreed to buy a 49% stake in the Nets and while he has yet to publicly comment since the purchase, the expectation is he will try to take the organization global, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “Mikhail [Prokhorov] and Joe are both committed owners and they’ll be hands-on to a certain extent,” general manager Sean Marks said. “The fact that Joe saw something that he liked in Brooklyn, saw something that he liked with the Nets organization, I think there’ll be a great partnership between the two.”

Joe Tsai Completes Purchase Of 49% Stake In Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov has officially sold a 49% stake in the Nets to new minority owner Joseph Tsai, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg (Twitter link). Soshnick writes that the Nets received an overall valuation of $2.35 billion in the transaction, a new NBA record.

“As a lifelong sports fan, I am very proud to join the Nets ownership and the NBA family,” Tsai said in a statement, per the Nets’ official announcement. “I lived in New York in the early days of my career and the City holds a special place in my heart. I share the vision and culture that Mikhail Prokhorov, CEO Brett Yormark, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have put in place, and I look forward to being part of this great franchise.”

Tsai’s agreement to buy a significant share in the Nets was reported way back in October of 2017, but took some time to finalize. In addition to giving the Alibaba executive vice chairman and co-founder a significant stake in the Nets, the deal will also give him the opportunity to buy the franchise outright from Prokhorov in three years.

As has been previous reported, Prokhorov will continue to oversee Brooklyn’s basketball and business operations for the next few years, but Tsai will have the option to assume controlling interest in the franchise in 2021.

The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved Tsai’s purchase of 49% of the Nets.

New York Notes: Hornacek, Jack, Tsai, Lin

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek may not have a long-term future in New York, but at least two of his players are coming to his defense, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter both offered support for Hornacek after the team’s latest loss, which is part of a 1-13 string.

“He’s doing a great job in a tough situation,” Hardaway said of his coach. “Coaches are in a tough situation too. It’s easy for him to fold as well. He’s continuing to develop us as ballplayers, continuing to encourage us on both ends of the floor, especially in practice, continuing to have that killer instinct and mentality to instill in the ball club. We appreciate that and we’ll keep on fighting for him.”

Hornacek’s job was considered to be in jeopardy even before the latest slide. He has one year left on his contract and is a holdover from the Phil Jackson regime. Team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are believed to want to put their own candidate on the bench.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • With the Emmanuel Mudiay/Frank Ntilikina backcourt duo struggling recently for the Knicks, Hornacek admitted this week that he’s “talked about” going back to Jarrett Jack at point guard to restore order, Berman writes for The New York Post. Jack, who was the Knicks’ starter up until the All-Star break, was considered a buyout candidate, but stayed in New York through March 1 to help mentor the club’s young point guards.
  • The NBA has yet to officially confirm Joe Tsai‘s purchase of a 49% stake in the Nets, but Tsai is already making his presence felt, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Tsai, who sat courtside during the Nets’ game this week in Golden State, will have the option to take over the franchise as the majority owner within three years, once the paperwork is finalized.
  • Jeremy Lin, Tsai’s favorite player, continues to rehab his season-ending knee injury as he aims to be ready for the start of the 2018/19 season. Lin, who has already exercised his player option to return to the Nets next year, spoke to Alex Labidou of BrooklynNets.com about his recovery process and how he’s tried to stay involved with the team since suffering his injury.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

New York Notes: Knicks, Ntilikina, Nets, Stauskas

With the Lakers playing the Knicks on Tuesday, Luke Walton was asked about his old coach, Phil Jackson, and admitted that Jackson’s ouster in New York didn’t sit particularly well with him, per Al Iannazzone of Newsday.

“I don’t know all the details of what was going on here, obviously, but a mentor to me like that and someone that means as much to me as Phil does, I’m not in favor of it happening,” the current Lakers head coach said of Jackson. “There’s people out here that I wanted to see succeed. I love the triangle offense. I wanted to see that work. But for whatever reasons it didn’t.”

Here’s more out of New York:

  • Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina are showing Knicks fans that it’s okay to be optimistic about the club’s future, says ESPN’s Ian Begley. In praising Ntilikina, Begley notes that the rookie point guard is “low maintenance,” adding that there were some in the Knicks organization who had serious concerns before the draft about LaVar Ball’s impact in the event that the team had a chance to pick Lonzo Ball.
  • Sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the Nets‘ deal to have Joseph Tsai buy a 49% stake in the franchise could be done by the end of the month. Although it’s not finalized yet, controlling owner Mikhail Prokhorov referred to Tsai as “a great partner” who “will help the game and help the NBA.”
  • While Jahlil Okafor was the primary piece in last week’s trade between the Nets and the Sixers, the deal also gave Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson another reclamation project to work on. As Lewis writes for The Post, it will be interesting to see what Atkinson – who has a reputation as a “guard whisperer” – can get out of Nik Stauskas.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Nets, Miles

Despite losing two of their most notable defenders over the course of the offseason, the new-look Celtics boast an imposing defensive front thanks to returning defensive quarterback Al Horford and new addition Kyrie Irving, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes.

In fact, if the NBA season were to end today, the Celtics would have the highest defensive rating (95.9) of any team since the 2004/05 Spurs. That’s a franchise improvement of 9.6 points over last season, a fact even more impressive when you consider that in addition to the new faces, the club also heavily features youth in their lineup, starting both 21-year-old Jaylen Brown and 19-year-old Jayson Tatum.

As Forsberg writes, the Celtics may have lost defensive skill over the summer but they gained length. By replacing Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder with Irving, Brown and Tatum, the club gained more than a foot in height.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • A profile on new Nets minority owner Joe Tsai reveals that the Alibaba co-founder’s favorite player is Jeremy Lin, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Tsai also praised second-year swingman Caris LeVert.
  • The Raptors haven’t relied heavily on C.J. Miles from beyond the arc but his presence on the perimeter has served as a decoy for the Raptors’ offense, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “He is a product of great spacing,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He helps our spacing and that is one reason why the roll guy is so productive. They are hugged up on him [out beyond the arc], which is great, and to me that is just as good as C.J. knocking down a three or even getting an attempt.
  • While the plan was to keep Marcus Morris on a minute restriction following his return from a knee injury, injuries to other players have impacted that strategy. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes that the newly acquired Celtics forward has been called upon to play 22-25 minutes but that they’ll see how his body responds on a game-by-game basis.

Joseph Tsai Buying 49 Percent Stake In Nets

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has reached an agreement to sell a 49% minority stake in the Nets to Alibaba executive vice chairman and co-founder Joseph Tsai, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN. League sources tell the ESPN duo that Tsai’s purchase will be based on a $2.3 billion valuation of the franchise.

As Wojnarowski and Lowe detail, the agreement between Prokhorov and Tsai will give the new investor the option to take over a majority interest in the franchise in the not-too-distant future. The plan is for Prokhorov to remain the principal and operating owner of the Nets for four more years, with the assumption that he’ll sell his stake once Tsai triggers his option.

As long as Tsai controls just 49% of the team, Prokhorov will continue to oversee the Nets’ basketball and business operations, sources tell the ESPN duo.

Reports of Prokhorov’s willingness to sell 49% of the Nets, with a path to controlling ownership for the new minority shareholder, have surfaced throughout the year. Tsai, whose Alibaba Group is a massive Chinese e-commerce company, had been cited as a possible buyer multiple times, despite the fact that a spokesperson repeatedly denied his interest.

The $2.3 billion valuation on Tsai’s purchase of the Nets is somewhat surprising. Although Brooklyn is certainly a favorable market, the club has won just 41 total games in the last two years, and currently lacks superstar talent. The agreement also doesn’t include ownership of the Barclays Center, the team’s arena. Nonetheless, the $2.3 billion valuation is a new record for an NBA franchise, surpassing the Rockets’ $2.2 billion sale price from earlier this year.

[RELATED: Tilman Fertitta Approved To Buy Rockets For $2.2 Billion]

Although the Nets haven’t enjoyed much on-court success in recent years, Tsai has “expressed enthusiasm over the direction of the franchise,” and has confidence in GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson, sources tell Wojnarowski and Lowe. Tsai intends to take advantage of his strong business ties in Asia to create “global business opportunities” for the Nets.

Latest On Nets’ Ownership Situation

Reports on a potential sale of the Nets have surfaced throughout the offseason, with current owner Mikhail Prokhorov publicly conveying a desire to sell up to 49% of the franchise and denying reports suggesting that he’d be willing to give up control of the team.

This week, a pair of new reports have provided some updates on that process, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Prokhorov is getting closer to selling the Nets, and multiple suitors are in the running to purchase 49% of the franchise, sources tell Josh Kosman of The New York Post. The proposed sale wouldn’t include ownership of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, per Kosman.
  • Although a potential buyer would only receive a minority stake in the club at this point, the proposed agreement would give that investor the right to buy a larger stake and become controlling owner of the franchise within three years, Kosman reports.
  • In the wake of the Rockets selling for $2.2 billion, Prokhorov is seeking a sale price that values the Nets at over $2 billion as well. That means a 49% share of the franchise could be worth in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
  • Two sources told Jessica Toonkel and Olivia Oran of Reuters that Alibaba executive vice chairman Joe Tsai is in advanced talks to buy a stake in the Nets. However, Alibaba spokesperson Jennifer Kuperman called it a “false” report. “Joe Tsai has never talked to the seller and he is not purchasing any stake in the Brooklyn Nets,” Kuperman said in a statement.
  • Reuters’ initial report indicated that an agreement with Tsai could be finalized within the next few weeks, with a franchise valuation of about $2.2 billion. However, those sources cautioned that the deal could still fall apart.
  • Kosman, who has previously reported Tsai’s interest in the Nets – which Alibaba denied at that time too – was unable to confirm whether the Taiwanese billionaire is currently in talks with the team.