Joe Tsai

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.

Latest On NBA’s Morey/China Controversy

As we relayed on Sunday, the Chinese Basketball Association and other business in China have suspended their relations with the Rockets in the wake of a Daryl Morey tweet in which the Houston general manager expressed support for protestors in Hong Kong. Although Morey deleted the tweet and the Rockets and the NBA made efforts to walk it back, the league remains in a tenuous spot, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

The NBA issued a statement on Sunday, calling it “regrettable” that Morey’s tweet had offended “many of our friends and fans in China” and noting that Morey’s tweet didn’t represent the Rockets or the NBA. However, the league doesn’t intend to fine, suspend, or otherwise punish the Houston GM, sources tell Zillgitt.

Interestingly, the NBA’s statement also looked a little different in Chinese than it did in English, according to Yanan Wang of The Associated Press. In Chinese, the league referred to Morey’s tweet as “inappropriate,” a word that didn’t show up in the English statement. League spokesperson Mike Bass said today that the discrepancy wasn’t intentional (Twitter link via Zillgitt).

The NBA has to walk a fine line in this controversy, since the league typically hasn’t discouraged its coaches, players, and executives from speaking up about political and social justice causes that matter to them. In this case though, it’s clear that the NBA’s business interests in China’s massive market are influencing the league’s decision to distance itself from Morey’s initial comments and to placate its Chinese partners.

Here’s more on the controversy:

  • John Gonzalez of The Ringer cited league sources who claim that the Rockets have debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him. However, several reporters – including Sam Amick of USA Today, Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle, and Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (all Twitter links) – have heard from sources that’s not the case and that Morey’s job isn’t in jeopardy.
  • Morey hasn’t apologized for his initial tweet, but issued a follow-up statement in which he stressed that he didn’t intend any offense and expressed his appreciation for “our Chinese fans and sponsors.”
  • Rockets star James Harden, who has participated in promotional tours in China in the past, was among those in damage-control mode this weekend, per an ESPN report. “We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there,” Harden said. “For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love.”
  • New Nets owner Joe Tsai issued an open letter to fans (via Facebook) providing more context on the situation in Hong Kong and China and criticizing Morey for not being “as well informed as he should have been.” Tsai’s framing of the Hong Kong protests as a “separatist movement,” rather than a fight for civil rights and democracy, echoes language used by the Chinese government. It’s worth noting that no NBA owner is more invested in China than Tsai, the co-founder of Alibaba Group.
  • The Chinese Basketball Association has cancelled the G League exhibition games between the Rockets‘ and Mavericks‘ affiliates scheduled to take place in the country later this month, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • For more analysis on the saga, be sure to check out pieces from Chris Mannix of SI.com, Daniel Victor of The New York Times, and Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

Nets Notes: Levy, Business Ventures, Projections

Nets owner Joe Tsai, who was unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors to take over control of the team earlier this week, believes the franchise has done an excellent job creating a winning environment.

“They established the culture, developed talent others couldn’t see, and made Brooklyn the place where the best players want to play,” Tsai said (via Brian Lewis of the New York Post). “In a great position to compete. I am thrilled to be partners with winners!”

Tsai has David Levy, who formerly lead Turner Broadcasting, overseeing his sports portfolio.

“It all starts with putting a competitive product on the floor. That means we have to win games, both in the regular season and the playoffs,” Levy said. “That’ll help us attract more fans.

“We’re going to market our stars, our team, our culture. That’s opportunities for bigger sponsors, and the foundation [GM] Sean [Marks] and [head coach] Kenny [Atkinson] built is going to help me do that.”

Here’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets are looking at opportunities around esports (Brooklyn owns one of the 22 teams in the 2K League) and sports betting in order to capitalize on the increased interest in the team, Lewis relays in the same piece. Levy also tells Lewis that he intends to look into trying to re-negotiate the team’s TV deal.
  • Steve Kyler believes the Nets will finish fourth in the Atlantic Division, as he writes in a collaborative piece with the staff at Basketball Insiders. Kyler doesn’t see Kyrie Irving’s transition to the lead role in Brooklyn going smoothly.
  • In the same piece, Eric Pincus details how the Nets were creative with their financial moves this past offseason. Brooklyn negotiated a double sign-and-trade with Golden State for Kevin Durant rather than signing him outright, which allowed the team to maximize its cap space.