The Nets have remade themselves as the NBA’s star team – and everything that entails.
From the moment Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant turned Brooklyn a pop-up super team, the Nets have embraced a culture of enabling their top players. Brooklyn signed DeAndre Jordan to a lucrative contract because he was a friend of Durant and Irving. The Nets allowed their stars to force out one coach and choose another. Brooklyn has tolerated Irving doing whatever he wants. In fact, the Nets leaned even further into star culture by trading for James Harden, who got his own special treatment with the Rockets.
But just how far has Brooklyn gone?
A very high-ranking official with the Nets who had a lot to do with the money said basically, there’s a blank check as soon as these guys got here – whether that’s buying a girlfriend or a girlfriend on the side a house in California for a week, whether that’s just putting up money for the boys and the homeboys and equipment for random s***, they’re totally cool with that.
Just renting a house on the team dime. These guys don’t pay for a lot of personal stuff themselves. And so, the financial team of the Nets would kind of come every week or so, they’d be like, “OK, we thought we had this under control. We’ve got to redo the budgets every week.” And they were like it was just a new thing every damn time.
There’s a lot of things that the Nets do that aren’t kosher. There’s a reason they have this kind of kremlin-esque wall around everything they do. During the middle of COVID, they were working out half the team – well, really, Kyrie, KD and their friends on the team – out in Kobe’s old gym in California. You weren’t allowed to do that during COVID.
They were running a secret camp the whole time, trying to get Kyrie and KD in shape.
Salary-cap circumvention is a serious charge. The Collective Bargaining Agreement restricts player compensation to only terms specified in uniform contracts. Consequences for violations could be extreme – large fines or even voided contracts.
There are gray areas. Nobody is blanching at an owner taking a player out to dinner, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Teams sometimes hire players’ friends and family, and the league allows it.
But this sounds both systematic and under the table – a combination that could prompt league action.
Kawhi Leonard‘s uncle/advisor, Dennis Robertson, reportedly asked the Lakers for a house and other illegal inducements. After Leonard signed with the Clippers and a man claimed the Clippers agreed to pay him to funnel money to Robertson, the NBA opened an investigation into the Clippers.
Perhaps, Brooklyn’s setup is more benign than presented here.
But it wouldn’t be surprising if the league investigates this, too.