Nazr Mohammed was doing so well, too

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For starters, it should be noted that at least the players are willing to talk about these things. They’re brave enough to go on Twitter, to talk to reporters, to have conversations about the state of the lockout and the potential end of the season. Their position is obviously as biased as it can be, but while they’re taking to social media and media outlets, the owners are hiding behind limousine windows. The response to that is “They’ll get fined!” but that belies what we’ve seen and heard, which is that David Stern is beholden to the owners. So which is it? He’s helpless against their insatiable desires or he rules them with the iron fist?

But I digress.

Nazr Mohammed was discussing the owners’ latest offer on Twitter and doing a pretty decent job. He won’t speak to specifics but continues to rail against the owners and explaining why the players will likely opt for decertification over a vote on Monday. But then, well, he went too far.

 

If this deal is accepted…I advise guys to stay in school and get ur degree, Master’s if possible. U might be able to make more $ that…Sat Nov 12 18:53:57 via Twitter for iPhone

…way than playing in the NBA in ur 1st five years. Being the 1st pick of the draft would mean nothing. #NBALockoutSat Nov 12 18:55:51 via Twitter for iPhone

 

That… was NOT what you wanted to say.

OK, so here’s what he’s talking about.

Everyone freaked out yesterday about a single 140-character tweet from Ric Bucher yesterday about a proposal element that would give teams the right to send a player to the D-League for the first five years of their career and pro-rate them at $75,000 while they’re down there. Now, I can tell you having covered the D-League for the past four years, the goal of the league is not to serve as some sort of Siberian prison camp for players to punish them. If that proposal did make it in, it would be used only for players who clearly weren’t ready. When they were, they would come up. If you draft a top draft pick, you’re not sending him to the D-League for five years to keep costs down. You want him up. The guys this would impact would likely not be part of the union long-term anyway. And we don’t know any of the surrounding details of the proposal. Oh, and what’s that? One more thing? Oh, yeah.

It’s not in the proposal anymore. It’s gone. It’s dead. It’s over. But players are still reacting to it.

NBPA COMMUNICATION = FAIL.

But just for kicks, let’s say that Mohammed’s right. That this could happen.

Via Wikipedia, the average salary for a graduate of a Master’s program several years ago, prior to the recession, was $63,000. Now subtract student loans. Now consider that most MA’s aren’t going to be in fields that yield significantly higher than that. Now consider how many MA’s you know who are working in service-industry jobs right now because of the economy. Now consider the per-hour rate of most MA’s vs. NBA players (who work very, very hard, make no mistake).

Yeah, that was not the best thing.

What’s worse is that this is the kind of thing the players don’t need right now. Even though winning the PR war will do nothing for negotiations, the players just don’t need something similar to Patrick Ewing’s famous “We spend a lot, too” comment. The players don’t necessarily have to have a high awareness of the job market outside the NBA. In a lot of ways many NBA members have a greater awareness of the poverty conditions in this country than most. But they don’t need to be talking about any NBA player being put in a bad situation. They’ll be put in a worse situation than they were under in the last CBA. But their lives overall will still be pretty great.

 

Joseph Tsai to buy rest of Nets, Barclays Arena for $3.4 billion

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NEW YORK — Joe Tsai has agreed to buy the remaining 51 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center from Mikhail Prokhorov in deals that two people with knowledge of the details say are worth about $3.4 billion.

Terms were not disclosed Friday, but the people told The Associated Press that Tsai is paying about $2.35 billion for the Nets – a record for a U.S. pro sports franchise – and nearly $1 billion in a separate transaction for the arena. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the transactions have not yet been completed.

Tsai is the co-founder and executive vice president of the Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant. He already had purchased a 49 percent stake in the team from Prokhorov in 2018, with the option to become controlling owner in four years.

Instead, he pushed up that timeline for full ownership of a team on the rise after signing superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in July.

Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, became the NBA’s first non-North American owner in 2010 and oversaw the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn two years later. He spent big in the first couple years after the move in a quest to chase a championship, but the team soon became one of the worst in the NBA before rallying to return to the playoffs last season.

“It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe will build on that success, while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees, and colleagues in the industry enjoy.”

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of September and is subject to approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

That would put Tsai, a native of Taiwan, in full control of the team by the time the Nets head to China to play two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers in October. That comes at the start of a season of renewed excitement for the Nets, who just three seasons ago won an NBA-worst 20 games but are set to make a big move up the standings after landing two of the best players on the market when free agency opened.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago. He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank,” Tsai said. “I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”

Brett Yormark, the CEO of BSE Global, which manages the team and the arena, will oversee the transition before leaving for a new role.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder tells Donovan Mitchell to ‘be a sponge’ around Gregg Popovich

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While other players continue to pull out of the USA Basketball roster — De'Aaron Fox was the latest, and P.J. Tucker before him — Utah’s Donovan Mitchell has been outspoken in his commitment to the team.

“Me, I’m 22, some guys are older and got to rest their bodies and I understand that…” Mitchell said Friday night after Team USA’s exhibition game win over Spain. “For me, I’ve never been part of USA Basketball and I’m honored to be here, I’m honored to have this privilege to go out and compete.”

A lot of players have left — or just not put their names in the hat in the first place — saying they wanted to focus on preparing for the regular season, especially players in the Western Conference, which is deep with outstanding teams. The Utah Jazz, now with Mike Conley at the point, are one of those teams with high expectations.

Mitchell, however, has the full backing of his coach Quin Snyder to stay with Team USA and learn from Gregg Popovich, as Snyder told Marc Stein of the New York Times.

“Both Donovan and I have been excited for this opportunity, not just the chance to compete for his country but to play for Pop. I think he has an appreciation for the fact that he’s playing for the greatest coach that’s ever coached…

“Just try to throw yourself completely into it,” Snyder said he told Mitchell. “And try to communicate with Coach as much as you can. Be a sponge.”

Popovich has had an impact on the young players on the roster. For example, there’s more maturity to Kyle Kuzma‘s game, and Popovich recognized him on the court Friday night when Kuzma made a couple of smart plays against Spain.

Just having different coaching voices — not just Popovich but his assistants Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Villanova’s Jay Wright — can help a young player. The message may be consistent, but said in a different way, one that better gets through to the player. Styles matter.

Mitchell led Team USA in scoring against Spain with 13, but Snyder and Jazz fans are hoping for more. Not just gold at the World Cup in China starting Sept. 1, but that Mitchell comes back energized and with a broadened game after having been a sponge next to Popovich.

Marcus Smart reportedly cleared to play for Team USA

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Through two weeks of training camp, first in Las Vegas then in Los Angeles, through one intrasquad scrimmage and one exhibition game, Marcus Smart has sat in street clothes.

The Celtics guard has a calf injury that has sidelined him. On Thursday in Los Angeles he took part in the shooting parts of practice during training camp, but not the full-contact scrimmages against the select team. All he could really do was this.

Friday night he never got out of his warmups and did not play against Spain, but he did say on the broadcast he would be back.

Turns out, he was cleared to be back the next day according to Mark Stein of the New York Times.

This takes away a little of the sting of De'Aaron Fox deciding to withdraw from the team just before it left on Saturday for Australia.

It also means four Celtics are on the USA roster: Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. USA assistant coach Steve Kerr jokingly said to me last week he asked Brad Stevens for a thank you gift for running Celtics mini-camp.

Smart is one of the 13 players headed down under for a series of tune-up games before the World Cup (against Australia and Canada). If he’s fully healthy enough to go, Smart is a lock to make the roster because of his physical perimeter defense and ability to shoot the three (36 percent last season in the NBA, and the international line is a little closer in). He likely would come off the bench at the two behind Donovan Mitchell.

Bill Walton broadcast White Sox vs. Angels game and was nothing short of brilliant

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Bill Walton is brilliant.

The Hall of Fame hippie and big man was in the broadcast booth Friday night — not for basketball, but for the White Sox vs. Angels MLB game. Walton loves baseball even if his understanding of the sport is… unconventional.

I want Bill Walton to narrate my life.

The world missed him while he battled serious back issues, it’s so good to have him out and around and being himself again.