In a feature on DeAndre Jordan, Malika Andrews of ESPN got Sean Marks to admit to what fans and pundits had speculated: the Nets are willing to pay the luxury tax if it means they can contend for a championship.
“We’re going to be a tax team,” Marks told Andrews. “We are married to that. There’s a limited amount of times and ways you can continue to add to your team. You better do it now. You’re gearing up for a run.”
The Nets current payroll is $126.6 million which is $5.5 million below the cap threshold. Next year, even without a new and hefty contract for Joe Harris, the payroll is projected to be around $139.6 million. That also assumes the Nets hold on to Garrett Temple and Theo Pinson and don’t make any big mores. The cap threshold likely to around $143 million. The Nets of course hold the NBA record for luxury taxes. Mikhail Prokhorov paid out $90.6 million in 2014, $124 million over three years.
Marks has previously said the Nets new owner, Joe Tsai, is committed to proving what the Nets need to be a championship contender, but this is the first time he’s come out and said luxury taxes are in the team’s future.
Later Tuesday, Tsai went on the YES Network and said he’d have no problem paying the tax.
“Absolutely. I think the fans expect that we win a championship. And the good thing is I believe that we do have the pieces in place,” Tsai said in an interview with Ian Eagle.
“Now we have some injuries and people are coming back. But the fundamental pieces are in place to perhaps go all the way, so I’m absolutely comfortable that if we pay the luxury tax that’s fine.”
Tsai shouldn’t have much of a problem handling the bill. He is now the NBA’s second richest owner after Steve Ballmer of the Clippers with an estimated net worth of $13 billion, a figure that has jumped by $4 billion in the last year, mainly in the stock of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant he helped found.
Andrews discussion with Marks came as part of her profile of Jordan, who surprisingly got a four-year, fully guaranteed $40 million contract last summer. The belief, which Jordan does little to dismiss, is that his fellow 2016 Olympic gold medalists Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wanted him on the team. Although the numbers raised some eyebrows, Jordan has played well in his role as back-up and mentor to Jarrett Allen, who’s 10 years his junior.
Marks told Andrews that while he appreciates Jordan’s game, he also appreciates his happy-go-lucky personality.
“We knew we were wading through some uncharted waters where we’ve never been before -- where expectations are a little bit bigger,” Marks said. “To have a guy like DJ, who can hopefully keep the mood light behind the scenes is -- it’s really important...
“We are going to benefit from having him around,” Marks added. “So, it is not fair to call him a throw-in.”
For his part, Jordan likes where he’s at, no matter how it came about.
“As long as I’m respected by my peers and coaches, I’m cool,” Jordan says.
Jordan also told Andrews about he tried to keep his injured buddies in line when they’re on the bench in street clothes.
“I definitely wish they were playing,” Jordan told Andrews of KD and Kyrie. “But I’ll tease them like, ‘Damn, I know y’all don’t have any more suits left.’ I just want to be able to make sure they’re having fun, too. And Caris [LeVert], too, when he was out. Just keep it light and make sure that guys aren’t too down and thinking about how long they’re going to be out.”
His protege’, Allen, is also the brunt of some DJ jokes—and hair styling tips, but he loves having him around and knows coming off the bench is a new experience for the 31-year-old who started more than 800 straight games before arriving in Brooklyn.
“If he was thinking about being a d---, he hid it well,” Allen said, laughing. “He has been nothing but helpful.”
Jordan admits it was tough.
“It is tough as hell [to come off the bench],” Jordan said. “I battle with it daily. But I knew at some point in my career, at some point I was going to have to come off the bench. I didn’t think it was going to be now. I still don’t think it’s now. But this is the hand I was dealt. I could be an a--hole, but then if Jarrett isn’t playing well, then our team is not playing well.”
Of course, there could be rewards down the road.
- DeAndre Jordan is the NBA’s $40 million best friend - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- Nets owner and GM know they are going to be a ‘tax team’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Tsai on luxury tax (Video) - YES Network