Joseph Tsai

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.

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.