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What’s next for Brooklyn? Nobody knows, but expect something bold

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It was a foolish plan, but it was bold.

When Mikhail Prokhorov took over control of the Nets and they were ready to move to Brooklyn, he wanted to take over the New York market and promised a title within five seasons — then told GM Billy King to do whatever it took to put together a contender. It was brash, like Prokhorov himself. It was also shortsighted. In the NBA you can’t put together a title contender without at least one Top 10, franchise-changing player, and the Nets had zero of them. What’s more, to acquire the pieces that Prokhorov wanted in the short-term meant King would have to sacrifice the long-term. King made bad deals (and followed them up with bad deals, he made plenty of mistakes), all of which led to a troubled organization, but everything started with orders from on high.

The bill for those moves has come due, and Sunday it cost coach Lionel Hollins and King their jobs.

So what’s next in Brooklyn?

Nobody knows. But whoever lands in the GM and coaches chairs (and don’t be shocked if it’s one big name given a lot of power) know this — they will not be able to turn this around quickly.

The Nets will have tons of cap space next summer to throw at free agents, but they are going to have to settle for second-tier guys. Do you think Kevin Durant or Al Horford or Michael Conley or any of the other top free agents drawing multiple max offers will decide to step into this mess and try to be the savior? The New York market is still a draw, but remember last summer when Greg Monroe chose Milwaukee over New York because he liked how the organization was better positioned? That’s going to happen to the Nets this summer. There is no magic bullet for the Nets.

Why don’t the Nets just draft the franchise player they need to turn things around (like the Knicks across town)? Because the Nets don’t have their pick this season — the Celtics control it unprotected, part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deals King was pushed to make when the team moved to Brooklyn. In fact, the Nets don’t control their own first-round pick until 2019, all a result of King trying to do what Prokhorov wanted from the start. They are not rebuilding through the draft.

It’s going to be a slow process in Brooklyn, but expect Prokhorov to try to jump-start it with a big name. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News mentions the one that quickly started to buzz around the league again.

I expect overtures to be made. The question is would Calipari want to step into this? Slow rebuilds are not his thing. Might he just leverage the Nets for even more money in Kentucky, where he has built a powerhouse? It’s something to watch.

Bondy also mentions Danny Ferry, who brings baggage but certainly showed in Atlanta he knows how to build a team.

However, I’m not sure that’s a big enough splash. Not with Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and other splashy names for the New York market available. Thibodeau and Van Gundy — like Calipari — would want player control as well as being coach. Does Prokhorov want to bring in the CSKA Moscow president as GM, then let him pick the coach?

Whoever lands in the GM chair, will they try to trade guys like Joe Johnson (at the deadline) and Brook Lopez to get some picks and restock the roster? That would seem the smart play. A foundation needs to be laid before elite free agents will seriously consider coming to Brooklyn.

The challenge with prediction a direction for the Nets is there is no clear voice charting the path — there are a lot of different voices in Brooklyn suggesting a lot of different directions. Bondy reports that Brett Yormark is having a greater say in the organization (he’s a Calipari guy), as does Russian Dmitry Razumov. Who has Prokhorov’s ear?

In the interim, expect confusion out of Brooklyn, until Prokhorov decides to make his next bold strike.

Michael Porter Jr.: Pray for both George Floyd’s family and police officers involved in ‘this evil’

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. and Knicks forward Maurice Harkless
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Several NBA players posted about George Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer for about eight minutes.

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. struck a different tone than most.

Porter:

Knicks forward Maurice Harkless:

Harkless, whose dismay was shared by many, is a seasoned veteran. Porter has made made rookie gaffes.

But I’m uncomfortable criticizing someone for calling for prayer for anyone. For some, prayer can be effective way to cope amid tragedy. Many believe prayer can change the world.

Porter didn’t say prayer alone should be the solution. In fact, he called the situation “evil” and “murder,” seemingly suggesting the need for criminal justice, too.

Basketball Hall of Fame delays enshrining Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Spurs forward Tim Duncan
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The Basketball Hall of Fame originally planned to induct Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in August.

But coronavirus interfered.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the board of the governors for the Hall, told ESPN Wednesday that enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2020, one of the most star-studded lineups ever which includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant, will be moved to spring of 2021.

Colangelo stressed there will be separate ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, even though both events will now be held in the calendar year 2021. “We won’t be combining them,” he said. “The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration.”

I’m so glad each class will be honored separately. Bryant, Duncan, Garnett and the rest of this class – Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Patrick Baumann – deserve their own night.

So does Paul Pierce and whoever gets selected in the next class.

Life can end at any moment. Bryant’s death was a tragic reminder of that. But there’s no specific urgency here. The Hall of Fame should wait until it’s safe to hold a proper celebration of this class… then the next one.

NBA being sued for missed rent payments amid coronavirus shutdown

NBA Store
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The NBA has been sued by the owners of the building that houses the NBA Store, who say the league owes more than $1.2 million after not paying rent in April or May.

The league responded by saying it doesn’t believe the suit has merit, because it was forced to close the New York store due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBA Media Ventures, LLC is required to pay $625,000 of its $7.5 million annual fee on the first day of each month under teams of its lease with 535-545 FEE LLC, according to the suit filed Tuesday in New York.

The NBA entered into the lease agreement for the property at 545 Fifth Ave. in November 2014.

Counting other fees such as water, the owners of the building are seeking more than $1.25 million.

“Like other retail stores on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the NBA Store was required to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Under those circumstances, we don’t believe these claims have any merit,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to work directly with our landlord to resolve this matter in a manner that is fair to all parties.”

The NBA suspended play on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and faces hundreds of millions of dollars in losses this season, even as it works toward trying to resume play in July.

NBA latest timeline has games starting in late July, early August in Orlando

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Anyone hoping for a rapid return of the NBA is going to be disappointed (and hasn’t been paying attention to how Adam Silver operates).

The NBA continues to carefully move toward a return to games, likely with 16 or more likely 20 teams in Orlando at the Walt Disney World resort complex. Expect players to report in mid-July with games now looking like they start late July to early August, allowing more time for the league to get medical and testing protocols and equipment in place. This according to multiple reports, including Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reiterated that timeline. While Adam Silver and the NBA owners will be on a conference call Friday, no hard-and-fast timeline decisions are expected at that point.

The format for the NBA’s return also is not yet set, but momentum has shifted in the past couple of weeks away from bringing all 30 teams into the Orlando bubble/campus to finish some portion of the regular season. That would be too many people and too much risk for too little reward.

Instead, the restart likely will have either 16 teams — going straight into the playoffs — or 20 teams, with a play-in tournament of some kind (maybe a World Cup soccer-style group phase). And, as Marc Stein of the New York Times notes (and he is not alone), there is a push to have the clumped 9-12 seeds in the West — Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Sacramento — be the four additional teams brought in (along with the 16 playoff teams).

Teams who last in the playoffs past the first round could be in Orlando for months, which is why the NBA will allow family members to come to Orlando for the later rounds, report Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne at ESPN.

Conversations have centered on the timing of family arrivals at the Walt Disney Resort, which are likely to start once an initial wave of teams are eliminated and the number of people within the league’s bubble decreases, sources said.

Family members would be subjected to the same safety and testing protocols as everyone else living in the NBA’s biosphere, sources said.

Considering how long players on contending teams could be in Orlando — from mid-July until mid-to-late September, and maybe longer — allowing family to join them is the right thing to do.

NBA Commissioner Silver is trying to make a return as safe as he can and build as much consensus as he can, although he will not get anything absolute in either case. It’s in his nature to move cautiously, especially through uncharted waters like these. The NBA will have games again this summer, but earlier timelines have proved to be a bit optimistic.