Dan Feldman

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Report: Mikhail Prokhorov moving toward selling the Nets

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Mikhail Prokhorov said he’s selling 49% of the Nets then reportedly warmed to selling controlling interest.

Apparently, he merged plans.

Josh Kosman of the New York Post:

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is getting closer to selling the Brooklyn Nets, sources told The Post.

There are multiple suitors late in the process to buy a 49-percent stake in the struggling NBA team, along with the right to buy a larger stake and become the controlling owner in three years, sources told The Post.

Prokhorov was seeking a $2 billion valuation. Considering the Rockets just sold for $2.2 billion, that seems plausible.

It’ll be interesting to see the new minority owner’s path to becoming controlling owner. Hopefully, the arrangement creates a situation as juicy as the one in Memphis.

Steve Kerr laments Warriors’ ‘lazy’ play vs. Timberwolves in China

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Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors gave fans in China a crowd-pleasing taste of their up-tempo, free-flowing ball movement and explosive scoring.

Jimmy Butler and the re-tooled Timberwolves played a more complete game, however, and moved in front for good in the fourth quarter in Shenzhen.

“We played well for about a quarter and a half and then we started getting careless with the ball,” said Kerr, who suggested his team should have led by 15 at halftime, when Golden State instead led by just five at 55-50.

“We got lazy,” Kerr added.

Stephen Curry was called for five fouls in about 24 minutes on the court, but still managed to score 14 points.

“Hopefully I can get rid of all the fouls in the preseason. That’s what the preseason’s for,” Curry said.

Durant was the most efficient player on the court, hitting an array of mid-range jumpers as the Warriors held the lead for the first three quarters.

Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau sounded pleased by his team’s progression during the game and stressed the urgency of his new lineup, featuring the addition of Butler, getting in synch before the regular season opens this month.

“The second half we played better, moved the ball better, ran better plays,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously with a shortened preseason – we’re only playing three games – we have to move things along a lot quicker.”

TIMBERWOLVES 111, WARRIORS 97

Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns each scored 16 points in 26 minutes apiece for the Timberwolves. Durant scored 20 points in 25 minutes to lead Golden State.

MINNESOTA: Power forward Taj Gibson is looking more with his new team after being reunited with Thibodeau, his old Chicago Bulls coach. Gibson scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds while showing the ability to become more of a “stretch four” in Thibodeau’s system. He hit one of two 3-point shots – not bad for a player who has attempted only 35 3s in his career and made only three last season. … Andrew Wiggins added 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field.

GOLDEN STATE: Curry hit three of six from 3-point range, as did Klay Thompson, who finished with 13 points in 24 minutes.

UP NEXT: The Warriors (0-2) and Timberwolves (2-0) meet again on Sunday in Shanghai, China.

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Knicks’ Tim Hardaway Jr.: ‘My expectation for this team is to go to the playoffs and nothing more’

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The Knicks have been lousy while trying to be good lately, and now they’re just openly rebuilding. Few expect them to reach the playoffs this year.

Of course, New York’s players remain defiant.

Tim Hardaway Jr., via Ian Begley of ESPN:

My expectation for this team is to go to the playoffs and nothing more.

Does he mean “nothing less”?

Actually, this works better as is.

Report: Raptors signing Norman Powell to four-year, $42 million contract extension

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement allows extensions to start at 120% the estimated average salary and be added to three-year contracts after two years.

The Heat used the new mechanisms to extend Josh Richardson, and now the Raptors are following suit with another 2015 second-rounder who initially signed a three-year contract – Norman Powell.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell has agreed to a four-year, $42 million contract extension, league sources told ESPN on Thursday.

The deal, which starts with the 2018-’19 season, includes a player option on the fourth year, league sources said.

Powell will earn the minimum ($1,471,382) this season, then his extension will kick in for 2018-19. I presume he got the same amount as Richardson, the maximum allowable $42,166,656 with a starting salary of $9,412,200.

There’s a decent chance Powell could have gotten more in restricted free agency next summer, and I bet, if he were free to negotiate any extension, he could have even gotten more now. But so much guaranteed money is difficult to pass up for someone who has earned barely more than minimum salaries so far.

The Raptors capitalize by locking up the 24-year-old for the next three years at a value salary. Powell might even start at small forward this year. If not, he’ll be a top reserve. Players like that typically get more money.

Kobe Bryant says he’d kneel during national anthem if he were still playing

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What would Kobe Bryant do during the national anthem if he were still playing?

Kobe, via The Hollywood Reporter:

Kneel

I mean, maybe. But no NBA player has enacted that protest since Colin Kaepernick started the trend, and the league is pressuring players to stand.

In 2004 free agency, Kobe said he could see himself playing for the Clippers, who were owned by Donald Sterling, whose history of racism was already known. When Sterling’s racist audio recording caused a firestorm a decade later and Kobe was locked into a Lakers contract, Kobe proclaimed he couldn’t play for him.

There’s nuance to both situations, but it’s also easier to say you’d take a brave stance in a situation you know you won’t face than to actually take a brave stance.