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Jeremy Lin deal hurt, but Joe Tsai has big plans for ‘entire NBA’ in China

Alibaba Group Celebrates Opening of Olympic Showcase Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images

At a press conference Wednesday to unveil his latest charity located in his father’s hometown, Joe Tsai reiterated that the trade of Jeremy Lin hurt, but that he must respect management’s decision. And the Nets new minority owner suggested that he wants to push the “entire NBA” in China.

According to, Tsai said he was Lin’s “biggest fan” and called Lin “a very good friend.” When asked if the Nets still have a connection with China after the trade, the executive vice-chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba noted he’s interested in the NBA’s broader appeal in the country.

“You bought a set of LeBron James jerseys on Taobao (an online merchant owned by Alibaba). Tencent paid a lot of money to broadcast the game,” he told a reporter. “These revenues belong to the NBA and are divided equally among 30 teams.”

The NBA has already seen explosive growth in China and expects to see more with the league’s next TV contract. As Tsai noted, those revenues and others are divided equally.

The Nets trade of Lin was the first step in one of Sean Marks biggest moves of the summer.

Brooklyn sent Lin, a 2025 second rounder and the right to swap seconds in 2023 to Atlanta for a heavily protected second rounder in 2020 and the rights to French point guard Isia Cordinier. The move freed up cap space that permitted the Nets to make a second deal with Denver that returned Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Denver’s moderately protected first rounder next year and an unprotected second rounder in 2020. Within a week, Marks sent Arthur to Phoenix for Jared Dudley and the Suns’ lightly protected second rounder in 2021.

The night of the trade Tsai tweeted that Marks had made him aware of the trade talks and praised the GM for “doing terrific work to build the Nets for the long term.”

Tsai purchased 49 percent of the Nets for more than $1 billion in April. He will have an option to purchase control of the team, but not Barclays Center, in 2021.