After basically being abandoned by MSG and James Dolan, the New York Liberty is under new management and the team is excited about the possibilities.
“Joe Tsai (and his group) put in the support systems to allow us to have the resources so we can draft talent, sign free agents and continue to develop our talent from there,” Liberty chief operating officer Keia Clarke told AP. “I’m excited to see where we’re heading.”
Tsai bought the Liberty last month for a still undisclosed price. Dolan, who claimed the Liberty had lost $100 million over the course of its lifetime, had been trying to dump the WNBA team since November 2017. A year ago, he moved the Liberty from Madison Square Garden to the Westchester County Center. The team’s attendance and fortunes took a turn for the worse.
Now, though, the Liberty is happy with what Tsai, who owns 49 percent of the Nets, can bring them. They’ll play their home games in Westchester again this season, with the exception of a game at Barclays Center. Next year remains uncertain, but our Anthony Puccio has tweeted that Long Island and Nassau Coliseum look like the Liberty’s ultimate landing spot.
“This is an exciting time for the franchise. Great new ownership, the draft is coming in April, the free-agent signing period is underway,” Liberty coach Katie Smith said. “I’ve been in touch with our current players and with various free agents. There is genuine enthusiasm surrounding the future of the Liberty.”
Meanwhile, according to AP’s Doug Feinberg, the Liberty’s president is moving on. Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Famer and Dolan favorite, will not be kept. Feinberg writes Thomas “will remain with MSG as he completes his contractual obligations.”
Later Thursday, the Garden issued a statement on Thomas’ future with the company.
“Isiah’s contract ends in May and while we no longer own the Liberty, we will continue to honor his contract like we would any other executive. Isiah will continue to focus on his NBA TV job and managing his own business venture, Cheurlin Champagne,” the Madison Square Garden Company said.
Among the areas where Tsai has put resources is finding a training facility as well as housing. Like the G League, teams provide housing for WNBA players.
Feinberg also reports that the new ownership group won’t be starting from scratch as far as front office personnel.
“We will be bringing over as many people as possible,” Clarke said. “We’d like everyone to come back.”
Tsai, a co-founder of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has an option to assume control of the Nets in 2021. He’s already joined the board of NBA China.
- New York Liberty excited for upcoming season with new owners - Doug Feinberg - AP
- James Dolan will still pay his pal Isiah Thomas even after sale of WNBA’s Liberty - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News