Joe Tsai

Latest On Kyrie Irving

The Nets plan to bring Kyrie Irving back for road games once he clears health and safety protocols, but general manager Sean Marks may not be committed to that as a long-term decision, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Asked today if the team will continue with Irving as a part-time player when the roster returns to normal, Marks declined to answer, calling the question “hypothetical.”

Brooklyn has been hit hard by COVID-19 in the past week and currently has 10 players in health and safety protocols with tonight’s addition of rookie Day’Ron Sharpe, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The Nets, who also have Joe Harris sidelined after ankle surgery and Nicolas Claxton sitting out with soreness in his wrist, are missing 12 players for tonight’s game with Orlando. They signed four players this week with hardship exceptions to fill out their roster.

Marks admits the extreme shortage of personnel was behind the decision to let Irving start playing again, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, although he’s still ineligible for home games because he hasn’t met New York City’s vaccine requirement.

“Several months ago we made a decision that was based around what was best for the team,” Marks said. “What was best for the team at that point was continuity and I think we all see that continuity right now over the course of the last week and whatever the future looks like may be out the window for a while, and we’ve got to navigate that as best we can.”

Irving was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols earlier today, which means he either tested positive for the virus or returned an inconclusive result. Marks said he hasn’t appealed to Irving to get vaccinated or tried to change his mind about the issue, Reynolds adds.

“There’s also a risk for Kyrie when a guy comes in and if they’re not vaccinated,” Marks said. “I don’t want to get into those type of discussions, but that’s a risk for him coming into this environment, not just the team and so forth. But we’re all well aware of the status and his status and moving forward and how we’ll navigate this as best we can.”

Coach Steve Nash echoed Marks’ comments in a pre-game meeting with reporters, saying the original decision on Irving was based on continuity, but “continuity’s out the window now,” tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic.

“I’m excited to have Kyrie back,” Nash continued (Twitter link from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). “He’s an incredible player, no matter what capacity. We’ll incorporate him in. It’s a positive for our group.”

Owner Joe Tsai also spoke about the thinking behind the reversal on Irving, telling Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the decision was made solely for basketball reasons and isn’t an attempt to make a statement about the vaccine mandate.

“We’re trying to be practical. And I’ve always said I don’t want to make this a political issue,” Tsai said. “My only religion is to win games and win the championship. That’s where we are.” 

Celtics Notes: Third Star, Brown, Williams, Kanter

The Celtics probably need to find a third star to become title contenders, but they may not have the assets to acquire one, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes in an extensive look at how the franchise arrived at its current position. Boston has been on a hot streak this month, winning eight of its last 11 games and putting up the NBA’s best defensive numbers during that stretch. But as Bontemps talked to team officials around the league, he found skepticism about whether the Celtics are built to win in the playoffs.

“They probably need another guy,” an Eastern Conference scout said. “I love Al Horford, but he’s getting older. And I love (Marcus) Smart. But once you get past (Jaylen) Brown and (Jayson) Tatum — and especially past (Horford and Smart) — every guy is a question mark for me. They’re down to two legitimate stars, (and) you normally need three (to win).”

Bontemps traces Boston’s misfortunes over the past three years, including the losses of Horford, Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris in free agency and draft picks acquired from the Kings and Grizzlies that both fell to 14th, which was much lower than initially expected. Center Robert Williams has been the only full-time rotation player the Celtics have drafted in the past four years.

There are also concerns about whether Brown and Tatum are good enough to lead the team to a championship.

“Jaylen and Jayson aren’t making anyone better,” a Western Conference scout said. An Eastern Conference assistant coach added, “Jayson Tatum is about Jayson Tatum. I don’t think he cares about winning now, and if he does, it is on his terms. He doesn’t want to score 15 and win. He wants to score 39 and win.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Brown was cleared to play tonight, but coach Ime Udoka said he will be considered questionable for every game for the next week or two as he works his way back from a strained hamstring, Bontemps tweets.
  • Williams was thrilled to receive an extension during the offseason that will keep him in Boston for four more years, he said in an interview with Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “I told my agent as soon as the season was over, I want to go back. I want to be back,” Williams said. “I feel like we’ve building something great here with a young core getting stronger and stronger every day. And I want to be a part of that celebration when we get to the chance where we raising that banner, I want to be a part of it. To be able to say we went through it all together. It was a big emphasis on me staying.”
  • Nets owner Joe Tsai is the latest target of criticism from Celtics backup center Enes Kanter, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. In a Twitter post, Kanter calls Tsai a coward and a puppet of the Chinese government.

Nets Notes: Irving, Tsai, Offense, Durant

Nets owner Joe Tsai hasn’t talked to Kyrie Irving since the organization decided against letting him be a part-time player and there’s no indication that the standoff will be resolved soon, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The basics of the situation haven’t changed — Irving still refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine and New York City still has a vaccination mandate in place that doesn’t allow him inside Barclays Center for home games.

“Obviously Kyrie has his own belief so I respect that. But we have to make a team decision,” Tsai said. “This is not a decision about him. This is a decision about where we go as a team. And it is just not tenable for us to have a team with a player that comes in and out, no home games, only away games. What do you do in practice then?

“This week we have a whole stretch of six home games, so we won’t have Kyrie. So it became pretty clear to us. We are very much aligned among myself, (general manager) Sean (Marks), coaching staff that this has to be (the decision), especially since we’re a team with pretty lofty aspirations. We don’t see any other way of running this team.”

Tsai refused to discuss a possible extension for Irving, who is eligible for a new contract worth $187MM over four years. There have been reports that the offer is off the table amid the vaccine controversy, but Youngmisuk notes that Tsai referred to Irving as part of the Nets’ future several times during the interview.

“I hope that Kyrie can be part of the team, part of Brooklyn long term,” Tsai said. “But I am not going to get into the extension thing. I think we have an immediate question of whether he can play this season, and I hope he gets vaccinated as soon as possible.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Tsai believes he has shown that he’s willing to spend whatever it takes to keep the Nets in title contention every year, tweets NetsDaily. “Is that still a question?” he asked. “I’m going to pay $100 million in luxury taxes this year!”
  • The absence of Irving, a slow start by James Harden and the challenge of working in 10 new players has left the Nets’ offense sputtering, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Although Brooklyn has a wealth of talent, its current offensive rating is 101.0, which is 25th in the league. “At times (the offense) can look bad,” Kevin Durant said. “But for the most part I think we’re generating solid shots. We’re still trying to figure out what players, what best position to put different players in, which lineups work the best, where guys should be spaced out on the floor.”
  • Durant was fined $25K for throwing a ball into the stands during Friday’s game, the NBA announced (via Twitter).

Latest On Kyrie Irving

After issuing a press release on Tuesday announcing that Kyrie Irving won’t practice or play for the Nets until he can be a “full participant,” general manager Sean Marks spoke to reporters to provide more details on the team’s decision, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic write.

“We looked at everything. When you make a decision like this, it’s one that you don’t want to do hastily,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “… I think we all know what our objective is this year and how this, a decision like this, may be able to (impact) that ultimate objective. They are never easy decisions, but at the end of the day, I think we are looking at putting a group of people that are going to be able to participate fully and that is what this comes down to. And we’re not looking for partners that are going to be half time.

“I don’t think that would be fair to not only the team and staff and ownership and fans, but to be quite frank, not fair on Kyrie either when you are putting somebody out there that potentially can’t get the right ramp-ups and right buildups and so forth and look as good as he or the team should under a different set of circumstances. That is why this decision was ultimately made.”

Asked if Nets stars James Harden and Kevin Durant had a say in the decision to sideline Irving, Marks said that “everyone” in the organization was kept in the loop about the situation, but stressed that he and team owner Joe Tsai made the final call.

“Ultimately, this decision was Joe Tsai and myself, and this decision came down to what we felt was the right move for the organization at this time,” Marks said.

Irving is the only player on the Nets who remains unvaccinated against COVID-19. A New York City executive order requires individuals who work in the city to have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine in order to enter indoor venues such as Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden.

The NBA has stated that players who are ineligible to play in games due to local vaccine mandates will lose 1/91.6th of their salary for each game they miss. While the NBPA has pushed back against the league’s interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the expectation is that Irving’s stance will cost him $381K per game over the course of 43 games (41 in Brooklyn, plus two at MSG), for a total of nearly $16.4MM in lost salary.

Marks confirmed on Tuesday that Irving will only be docked salary for games in New York. As former Celtics and Suns executive Ryan McDonough explains (via Twitter), the decision to continue paying Irving for road games neutralizes Kyrie’s ability to involve the NBPA and file a grievance.

Here’s more on Irving:

  • As of now, Irving has no plans to be vaccinated and there’s no indication New York City’s policy on unvaccinated individuals will change any time soon, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, rival teams think Brooklyn would be open to a “significant” trade offer for Irving, but that kind of offer probably won’t be on the table, given that it’s unclear how willing Kyrie would be to join another team.
  • Executives polled by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports believe an Irving trade is possible, but only under “special circumstances,” since there are concerns he could retire if he’s dealt. “I don’t know if I’d touch him, but you have to look at it, for the sake of your team,” one exec told Goodwill.
  • Head coach Steve Nash told reporters today that he supports the Nets’ decision on Irving, per Ian Begley of (Twitter link). Nash said he’d love to have Irving back with the team if the situation changes, but believes it would have been a “tenuous situation” to have a player with the team off and on.
  • Harden said he respects Irving’s stance and would love to have him back in the lineup, but acknowledged that the Nets will benefit from knowing who will be available on a night-to-night basis (Twitter link via Begley).

New York Notes: Harden, Durant, Irving, Gibson

Nets owner Joe Tsai is hopeful that James Harden will finish his career in Brooklyn, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Harden has yet to sign an extension but Tsai believes Harden is in it for the long-term. “The way I look at it is he’s already said I want to play and finish my career in Brooklyn: He’s actually said that. And our job is to make sure that he continues to feel that way,” Tsai said. “Obviously, if we win a championship and also have the chance to win multiple championships down the road, that’s going to be even more convincing, more compelling.“

We have more from the New York City teams:

  • Nets perennial All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who has already signed a four-year extension, says he’s still evolving as a player and is focused on being as good as ever, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. “I really feel like I have been growing every single day and I am starting to understand the game a little bit more,” Durant said. “I kind of simplified it for myself. I try not to chase anything outside of just being the best that I can be on the floor … Yeah, it’s made me at ease a little bit.”
  • While Tsai respects Kyrie Irving‘s feelings regarding his reluctance to be vaccinated, he wants to remind his star point guard about the team’s ultimate aim, Lewis writes. “What is our goal this year? What’s our purpose this year? It’s very, very clear: Win a championship. And the championship team needs to have everybody pulling the same direction,” Tsai said. “So, I hope to see Kyrie play fully and win a championship together with everybody else, with all his teammates. That’s the best outcome for everybody.”
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is very happy Taj Gibson re-signed with the team on a two-year, $10.1MM deal, as Mark Sanchez of the New York Post notes. “Whether he’s [in or] not in the rotation, he’s practicing hard, helping his teammates, helping the team any way he can,” Thibodeau said. “If you have to play him off the bench, he can handle that. If you want to plug him in as a starter, he can handle that. He’s played two positions his entire career. He’s invaluable to us.”

Eastern Notes: Griffin, Nets, Harris, Cavs, Raptors Staff

The Nets plan to re-sign unrestricted free agent Blake Griffin and are also looking to add depth at center as the free agency period begins, general manager Sean Marks told ESPN’s Malika Andrews and other media members (Twitter link). Money does not appear to be an object — Marks said the Nets are “married to the luxury tax” and owner Joe Tsai is willing to spend whatever it takes to win.

We have more from the Eastern Conference

  • A report that the Sixers are shopping Tobias Harris isn’t accurate, a source familiar with the situation tells Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice. It’s likely that the Harris trade rumor is old news, since his name came up as part of a larger deal with the Rockets earlier this year before James Harden was dealt to the Nets.
  • Along with the pending acquisition of Ricky Rubio, the Cavaliers could look to add another veteran or two in free agency, particularly on the wing, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes. Doug McDermott and Reggie Bullock are two names to watch with Cleveland dangling all or part of its mid-level exception for their services. The Rubio deal with the Timberwolves can become official on Friday.
  • The Raptors have added Earl Watson, Trevor Gleeson and Nathaniel Mitchell to Nick Nurse‘s coaching staff. However, former assistant Nate Bjorkgren, who was fired after a season as the Pacers’ head coach, will not return to Toronto, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter links).

Nets Notes: Green, Durant, Harden, Griffin, Tsai

Plantar fasciitis forced Nets forward Jeff Green to miss six games earlier in the playoffs, but he has made a huge impact since his return. In a crucial Game 5 win on Tuesday, Green handled tough defensive assignments and was Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer behind Kevin Durant, pouring in 27 points and making 7-of-8 three-point attempts.

“Jeff Green was unbelievable,” head coach Steve Nash said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Incredible performance. For a guy who is coming off an injury, who has been a big part of our team this year, to step up and show that maturity, that veteran presence, that winning mentality, was unbelievable. Kevin’s performance tonight was historic, but Jeff’s the one that kept us in the game for a long, long time.”

Over the course of his NBA career, Green has become one of the league’s most well-traveled players, having played for 10 different teams since making his debut in 2007. The veteran forward hasn’t played for the same club for two consecutive full seasons since leaving Boston in 2014. However, he tells Sopan Deb of The New York Times that he can envision himself sticking with the Nets beyond this season.

“I’d love to settle down in one place,” Green said, adding that he’d like to play into his 40s. “There’s Brooklyn. I’d love to settle down in Brooklyn. I’m not too concerned with the NBA record or how many teams. When you think about it, if I was to play 22 years, played on 15 teams, what does that say? It has no teeth behind it.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Brian Windhorst of ESPN takes a closer look at what might be remembered as a career-defining performance for Kevin Durant, who led the Nets to a Game 5 victory with 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists on 16-of-23 shooting.
  • While James Harden‘s final stat list (five points on 1-of-10 shooting in 46 minutes) looked pretty ugly, especially compared to Durant’s, the All-Star guard turned in an inspiring performance coming back from a hamstring injury, writes Ian O’Connor of The New York Post. Harden, who chipped in eight assists and held his own on defense, ended up with a +4 rating on the night.
  • Blake Griffin was considered a luxury pickup for the Nets when they added him on the buyout market, but the team has asked for more from him in the postseason with Harden and Kyrie Irving both hobbled, and Griffin has delivered so far, says Louis Zatzman of FiveThirtyEight.
  • Nets owner Joe Tsai admitted during an interview with CNBC this week that he didn’t realize all that he was getting into when he prepared to assume control of an NBA franchise four years ago, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “One thing that I realize, when you own a sports team is it’s larger than a sports team: It’s a social institution,” Tsai said. “You’re doing it for the fans, you’re doing it for the broader population. I’m really glad we’re situated in Brooklyn because we have the best fans in the world.”

Nets Notes: Harden, Seeding, Griffin, Sponsorships

James Harden won’t play on Tuesday but Nets coach Steve Nash is optimistic the star guard will see action in at least one regular season game heading into the postseason, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Harden has missed 18 games due to a hamstring strain.

“He is putting in his consecutive high-intensity work modes, he has responded and so it’s all positive,” Nash said. “We can’t commit to anything right now because we’re not committed to anything … but definitely possible that he plays one or more of these next four games.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Brooklyn will likely be either the No. 2 or 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs but its seeding is not a high priority for Nash, Dunleavy relays in a separate story“I think the No. 1 thought and priority as a staff is health over seeding,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re 1,000 percent in on health over seeding.”
  • Since joining the Nets as a buyout-market addition, Blake Griffin has settled in with the club, producing a 20-point game against Denver this weekend. Kyrie Irving believes Griffin will be a big key in the postseason, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “That’s what we need Blake to be in terms of being out there, being an option for us, being a playmaker,” Irving said. “His game has evolved. We understand that he’s going to play a different style with us out there, and that’s going to complement when he figures that role out.”
  • Owner Joe Tsai is seeking out new corporate partnerships to raise money, including a jersey patch sponsor, Lewis and Josh Kosman of the Post report. A name change for the Barclays Center could be in the works as well, as the franchise could get $15-20MM annually for the naming rights to the arena. Barclays Center owes more than $500MM in debt, the Post duo adds.

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, Bobby Marks lists the trade assets held by all 30 teams, including moveable players, surplus draft picks, and trade exceptions.