Among the most popular discussion topics among front office types at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas was a thinly-veiled disgust at Mikhail Prokhorov and the Brooklyn Nets. While even elite teams are looking to save costs against the new tax structure — Miami amnestied Mike Miller to save money — the Nets went the opposite direction (and somehow getting Andrei Kirilenko at less money than other teams were offering).
The Nets put together a payroll around $101 million that will bring more than $80 million in tax (as currently constructed). That is not sitting well with other teams.
And for the Nets, the guy writing the big checks expects results. He was not subtle at the press conference introducing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, as reported by the New York Post.
“I have done what I can. Now I think it is high time for the team to do the rest,” he said, deadpan…
“When I bought the team, I promised to create a championship contender, a team worthy of Brooklyn,” said Prokhorov. “I’ll be proud when we win the championship. I am not a man of procedure. I am a man of results.”
No pressure guys.
As for what the rest of the NBA thinks, about all those whispers behind his back, Prokhorov shrugs.
“I’m willing to invest more to make [the] Brooklyn franchise the best in the league….
“Old stereotypes, they’re very hard to beat and to break,” Prokhorov said. “I respect all the NBA rules and we play by the NBA rules. But I want just to stress again like with [the] luxury tax, I will do whatever I can in order to win [a] championship, but under the NBA rules. Please make no mistake about this.”
We’ll see. Even with all that spending the Nets are not the favorite in the East (I’d have Miami, Indiana and Chicago ahead of them). They need a lot of things to go right to contend — Garnett and Pierce need to be healthy, Deron Williams needs to return to his Utah form, and Jason Kidd needs to prove he can coach. It’s a lot of things to go right.
But that’s what the owner is paying for.
The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:
Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?
Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:
I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.
Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.
But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.
His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.
Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.
So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.
The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.
Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.
After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).
But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?
The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.
He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.
But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.
I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.
John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.
An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.
But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.