Highest payrolls in the NBA this season (with rounded figures):
1. Warriors: $346 million ($176 million in salary, $170 million in luxury tax)
2. Nets: $267 million ($169 million in salary, $98 million in luxury tax)
Brooklyn – which got swept from the playoffs after hosting just two playoff games – doesn’t produce that type of revenue. Apparently nowhere near.
The Nets and Barclays Center lost between $50 million and $100 million combined in the 2021-22 season, giving Tsai perhaps the worst financial losses in the NBA, sources with close knowledge of the situation told The Post.
A $50 million-$100 million range is massive. That alone should raise questions about accuracy.
As should the history of NBA teams claiming losses.
Teams mislead and obfuscate about profit. Accounting tricks can create losses where laypeople would reasonably view a situation as profitable. Owners’ tax breaks generally aren’t counted. Neither are gains in valuations.
Joe Tsai bought the Nets for about $2.35 billion, beginning with buying a partial share in 2017 then taking full control (and purchasing Brooklyn’s arena) in 2019. The Nets are now worth $3.2 billion, according to Forbes.
But it’s easy to believe Brooklyn had a less rosy financial picture than most NBA teams last season. Player salaries and luxury tax were just the start of expenses. Kyrie Irving missed 35 of 41 home games due to his decision not to get vaccinated/New York City’s mandate. Battling injury, Kevin Durant missed 10 home games. Acquired for James Harden, Ben Simmons never played for the Nets. Brooklyn plays second fiddle in its own market, one still dominated by the Knicks.
The big question: Will Tsai reign in spending next season?
Irving can become a free agent and expects to return, presumably on a max contract. On his own mad deal, Simmons is probably untradeable for reasonable value. Patty Mills can opt out. Bruce Brown (unrestricted), Goran Dragic (unrestricted), Andre Drummond (unrestricted) and Nicolas Claxton (restricted) will be free agents in line for raises.
There’s plenty of room to downgrade if trimming payroll.
And this team already wasn’t good enough.