Wait! Who’s that guy?!? It’s Josh “Choc” Humphries who’s the star of the NetsGC and part of the first Brooklyn NBA team since the 2019 Long Island Nets to make the Eastern Conference Finals. NetsGC play at 5 p.m. ET Saturday vs. the Wizards Gaming District to determine who will play in the NBA2K Finals on September 4. Win or lose today, they’ve surprised and “Choc” has been the dominant player in the playoffs ... and a possible MVP.
UPDATE: The Dream ended Saturday evening when the Wizards Gaming District swept the NetsGC to advance to the NBA2K Finals. Still a great season for the upstarts from Brooklyn and “Choc.”
Isaia and Isaiah
We are just about a month into free agency and the Nets are still working out people, still talking to agents.
Isaia Cordinier, the 6’5” combo guard, is in Brooklyn this week for a workout/tryout. He’s hoping to impress the Nets enough that they give him a contract for this season. Whether that’s an Exhibit 10 training camp deal or a two-way is still TBD. Obviously, his priority is the NBA. He’s put off signing with top Euroleague teams until after he shows Brooklyn what he can do. If they say, thanks but no thanks, the Nets will still retain his rights. As he told our Alec Sturm back in June, “I know they’re still interested in me —for this year or next year, I don’t know.” The All-EuroCup first teamer is 24.
Isaiah Hartenstein, the 7-footer, has been talking to the Nets for a while apparently. As Brian Lewis said, the German-American big and the Nets have had a long “flirtatious” relationship going back to the 2017 NBA Draft. They looked at him seriously before that Draft, taking Jarrett Allen instead. They liked him in 2019 when the destroyed the Long Island Nets in the G League Finals with a 33-point explosion that included eight 3-pointers. In 2020, they wanted to sign him for the “bubble” but he wouldn’t have been eligible for the playoffs. So nothing happened. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that when he opted out of his $1.9 million player option that the Nets and he would have mutual interest and as Lewis writes, they have. Hartenstein would back up whoever starts at the 5, get minutes at the 4 if he signs. It’s a role he’s familiar with having backed up Clint Capela in Houston, Nikola Jokic in Denver and Jarrett Allen in Cleveland. And don’t forget, he and James Harden played two years together in Houston. Hard to imagine Harden hasn’t given his okay. Hardenstein’s 23.
The rest of the roster remains in flux, (as we’re noted ad infinitum.) This week, the Nets and Alize Johnson agreed to extend his guarantee date from this weekend until Opening Night, October 19. He’s non-guaranteed until then. Originally, he would have received a $100,000 guarantee this week, and $200,000 if he made the Opening Night roster. Now, he will receive $200,000 on October 19 with his deal fully guaranteed on January 10, when all non and partially guaranteed contracts become fully guaranteed. The agreement gives the Nets more roster flexibility. What’s in if for him? He’s still on the roster.
Indeed, the Nets still have a lot of moving pieces to sort out. They can bring 20 players into camp. Right now, they are 15 players on standard deals — including Alize Johnson on a non-guaranteed deal and DeAndre’ Bembry on a partial ($750,000) guarantee; a two-way in Kessler Edwards and an Exhibit 10 deal in David Duke Jr., who was undrafted. There are the two unsigned second rounders as well — Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray. Also, don’t forget the two Summer League vets who played well out in Las Vegas: 6’3’ shooting guard Quinndary Weatherspoon and 6’5” defensive-oriented shooting guard Jordan Bowden. Both are 24.
How will it work out? Beats us, but the Nets have a record of making moves late and using all manner of legal manuevers. Again, as noted, they can sign an unlimited number of prospects directly as they with Jaylen Hands in 2019, retaining their rights. Domestic stashes, as it were.
What about DeAndre Jordan? There have been constant rumors that the Nets are trying to trade him or buy him out. Two days ago, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne suggested the Lakers might be interested in DJ but added she didn’t think anything was imminent.
“I think they’d be open to one more center,” she said of the Lakers. “A Dwight Howard JaVale McKee type. Another candidate who I think you should watch — and this is another one that would be a bit harder to see how this is going to happen okay? — is Andre Jordan in Brooklyn.
“They are WAY OVER the luxury tax. I don’t think he’d do a buyout there. I think if he doesn’t play at all or depending on how he fits there, this would a mid season sort of thing probably,” she added.
So we wait, but that’s the fun of it. Well, that and knowing the Nets have three of the best basketball players IN THE WORLD! The bottom of the roster is the bottom of the roster.
Kyrie Irving back in the Dakotas, officially joins Sioux tribe
During the pandemic, Kyrie Irving was literally a life-saver for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe whose historical boundaries include parts of both North and South Dakota. Irving along with Nike has donated 17 pallets of food and 50,000 N95 masks to the tribe that was distributed across a wide expanse of the two states.
Irving’s late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was a member of the tribe and lived on the reservation until her adoption at a young age. Back in August 2018, Irving and his sister, model Asia Irving, traveled to the reservation , when they were welcomed by the tribe and given Lakota names. (Irving was given the Lakota name Little Mountain.)
Then, this past week, he was back again, also with Asia, to officially join his mother’s tribe,
At the ceremony, he was also given a star quilt, given to mark important life events, like graduation. For the Sioux people, the quilt — wičháȟpi owíŋža — represents honor and generosity...
Irving visited with the children of the nation ...
I just met Kyrie Irving and got to visit him for awhile about my dreams/passions in life. I was so excited!! pic.twitter.com/jDNQrQty3h— Anpo (@anpojensen) August 25, 2021
and took time to honor his mother...
It will be interesting to note whether the Nets do anything related to indigenous people with both Irving and Patty Mills having long histories honoring their forebears in North America and Australia. Mills pushed for the NBA’s first “Indigenous Night,” which took place during a Spurs game in January 2020. That night, during the pregame festivities, members of the Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation told of “San Antonio’s beginnings through several cultural performances.” And of course, Mills became the first aboriginal Australian to carry the nation’s flag into an Olympics opening ceremony.
Happy Birthday, James Harden, told through Twitter
James Harden had an ASTROWORLD themed birthday party last night in Houston @JHarden13 (h/t 2cool2blog/IG) pic.twitter.com/usBPS0v2lu— Overtime (@overtime) August 27, 2021
Russ got Harden a RICHARD MILLIE for his birthday @russwest44 (via @JHarden13) pic.twitter.com/tCioDGqonA— Overtime (@overtime) August 26, 2021
Happy birthday to our guy @JHarden13!— Art of Sport (@ArtofSport) August 26, 2021
Check out the custom Art of Sport cake we cooked up to celebrate accordingly pic.twitter.com/r4HhevmPQw
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant spotted at James Harden Birthday Celebration in Houston Texas pic.twitter.com/2rdzNFRhz9— NetsKingdom (@NetsKingdomAJ) August 29, 2021
Shares a birthday with my son , happy born day @JHarden13 wishing u many many more pic.twitter.com/DbByVeE7qK— Migz del Brigade (@mgbushwick1) August 27, 2021
The price tag on that watch? $300K according to reports.
The Great One talks about his dealings with Joe Tsai
Back in late June, Joe Tsai surprised the sports world by announcing he had two new partners in his Las Vegas lacrosse team: Wayne Gretzky, the Hockey Hall of Famer, and Steve Nash, his coach with the Brooklyn Nets.
How’d that crossover come together? The Great One laid it all out in a guest column on Sportico Friday. He said he has long been interested in lacrosse, particularly Box (aka indoor) lacrosse. Tsai has investments in both box and outdoor lacrosse. Gretzky said talks with Tsai who holds Canadian citizenship, began “a few years ago” but the first call was back in the spring of 2020.
“I remember our very first Zoom call in the early days of the pandemic. Joe was in Hong Kong, and it must have been 3 a.m. his time. I was so impressed with his vision for the NLL, for lacrosse in Las Vegas—and the fact that he was wide awake! I knew from that very first video conference that I wanted to be in business with Joe and his team, if he wanted to be in business with me and my team.
“And when I found out Steve Nash was coming on board it only added to my enthusiasm...
“I’m excited to be in the business of this amazing sport, but I’m equally excited to be in business with Joe. I have always prided myself on working with people I would like to have dinner with, but also sit next to in a locker room or a board room—and Joe is 100 percent that type of person.”
No word on how much Gretzky or Nash put into the venture, which still doesn’t have a name. The team will play at MGM Resorts International’s Michelob ULTRA Arena – located inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino – beginning in the 2022-23 season.
Speaking of money and Joe Tsai...
Yossi Gozlan of Hoopshype wrote up an analysis of the NBA super teams and what they will owe the league next July. That’s what the luxury taxes must be paid. The Nets, he says, are a $300 million team — $306.4 million to be exact. Here’s his analysis, including a note that come 2023-24, the Nets will begin having to pay the repeater tax. That’s what got the Nets in deep back in 2013-14 when they paid what was then a record $90.6 million to the league.
2021-22 Payroll: $175.8 million
2021-22 Luxury Tax Payment: $130.6 million
2021-22 Combined Payroll and Luxury Tax Payment: $306.4 million
Unlike Golden State, Brooklyn isn’t burdened with the increased tax rates of being a repeat taxpayer. That designation will likely start in the 2023-24 season after three consecutive seasons presumably being in the luxury tax. Kevin Durant recently extended for four years, $198 million and both James Harden and Kyrie Irving are eligible to sign maximum extensions as well. If both get their maximum amounts, all three All-Stars would earn at least $50 million in 2025-26. It will be fascinating to see what their luxury tax payment would be if the Nets still have all three players by then, especially since they’ll be repeaters.
Of course, the Warriors still exist. So the Nets won’t be No. 1. Gozlan says they’ll pay out a total of $362 million in salary and taxes. Also, the numbers aren’t final. The luxury tax is based on team payrolls the last day of the regular season. Payments must be received by the end of the first week of July.
James Harden’s famous prediction of “scary hours” when the “Big Three” was fully healed is beginning to be adopted by other players, other teams. The latest, Jadon Sancho, who plays for Manchester United and the England national team...
SCARY HOURS!— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) August 27, 2021
In case you forgot, Harden used the line for the first time in talking to the media on January 17, saying, “The chemistry, the sooner we can build that, the sooner we can be on the court together, it’s going to be scary hours.”
He used it again Sunday in talking to a Houston TV reporter...
Glad I could get “Walkoff Harden”— Ari Alexander (@AriA1exander) August 29, 2021
Great talking to him today! pic.twitter.com/199jInHJBT
One other thing: Someone named Lawrence Walker Jr. of El Cajon, California, applied for a trademark on the term for “Gaming, Clothing, namely, Sweaters, Hoodies, Track pants, T-shirts, Socks, Underwear, Hats” on January 5, twelve days before Harden’s comment.
Of course, there’s this from Lil Baby, Harden’s friend.
Long Island Nets will be interesting, starting with the coach
With all that young talent we described at the top of the Report, the Nets G League affiliate should be a fun watch at Nassau Coliseum. With the Islanders moving to their new home in Belmont, the Long Island Nets will be the lead tenants at The Barn.
Also, there will be a new head coach, Adam Caporn (pronounced KAY-porn) has spent the last seven seasons as head coach of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence, which is the country’s leading player development program. In a video posted on LinkedIn, Caporn spoke about his development philosophy, arguing that coaches should “avoid auto pilot,” that the process is often not “linear,” but “messy, difficult, arduous.”
He was also an assistant coach on the Australian national team. Patty Mills, a graduate of the Center, used less academic terms to describe his friend during this week’s media call.
“He’s a pain in the ass, mate. He’s the Aussie you guys got to look out for,” Mills said with a bright smile. “He’s great. I’ve known Adam Caporn for a long time. The AIS (Australian Institute of Sports) days in Australia. Saint Mary’s (College) as well. That connection is strong and to be able to work with him on the national team and at the World Cup in 2019 and in this one. It’s those connections that you make and you continue to grow and see how he operates on a professional level as a coach.
“A great opportunity for him and a great opportunity for everyone else to see how he goes about his craft. His attention to detail. His knowledge about the game. High basketball IQ and his ability just to have feel for his players, his team and the ability to connect with his players. It’s good to know he’s got that opportunity.”
There’s been a lot written about how Mills’ comfort level with all the former Spurs helped the Nets seal the deal. And indeed there are. But there are also now a lot of Aussies (and one tall New Zealander) on the Nets staff: The core of the performance team and now Caporn.
Good Luck to Jared Dudley, the new assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks, and all-time fan favorite for his work with the 2018-19 Nets playoff team. From his mentoring to his confrontation with Joel Embiid, he was a big part of their success.
Also note who he lists first when discussing the NBA types he spoke to before leaving the court for the bench.
I been preparing this moment for a long time! From deep talks With Nash, Hill, Shaq, Bron, Booker, Beal, AD, Giannis the list goes on.. Very excited to Join the MAVS and JKidd staff! Perfect fit and opportunity… Time to get to work— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) August 24, 2021
We expect to see you in the lead chair soon enough.