And now, a fan rant...
Whenever we see or hear or read about trade scenarios for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, we wonder who the audience is. There is a lot of discussion about how it will affect the players, management and ownership with deep dives into questions re luxury tax implications, the effect on the next CBA and the dreaded designated rookie extension.
That’s nice but what about the fans? There’s been virtually no discussion, other than by fans themselves on social media, re the effect the impending departure of two of the biggest stars in team history will have on the fans, the men, women and children who are the soul of the machine, who have bought a ticket (if they can afford to), worn a Nets jersey or cheered from the stands or the couch.
Fans can be fickle. They can be irrationally exuberant or casual but for many of us, fandom is a sacred thing. Fathers and sons bond over sports. Increasingly, so do mothers and daughters, Their commitment to their team is sometimes life-long, transcending differences that parents and their children develop over time. “How about those Nets?!” is one way to defuse arguments at family dinners. Big brothers teach little brothers to hate other team’s players and colors. Families plan outings to be there for the big game, pay exorbitant prices for food and drink and go home happy ... or sad. They even plan holiday dinners around TV schedules.
Parents must now try to explain to their kids why their favorites decided to bolt the home team, that sports may be pure in their young minds but it is a brutal billion-dollar — and very adult — business filled with big egos and bigger dollars and cents.
We’re not even talking about those (of us) who have been loyal for years or even decades, buying season tickets and paraphernalia, believing that we had finally gotten to mountaintop only to see the stone roll back. They’ll be no refunds for them ... nor recourse.
Although we don’t (yet) know enough to assign blame, it’s hard not to be pissed off in general, hard not to be reminded of the old Jerry Seinfeld joke about rooting for laundry in the brave new world of player empowerment and player “stans,” those fans who follow players more than teams.
We are constantly told that pro sports are a business and we have to understand that players are businessmen too. But what are we fans? Where do we fit? Are we expected to just go along, find new favorites, stay the course? Fans have heard nothing from ownership or management and Durant’s response to fans Saturday morning was cryptic.
I hope u get your wish my brother, in the meantime, enjoy your summer— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 9, 2022
Somewhere near the end of this debacle, the word will go forth that the Nets have rebuilt their culture, found that grit and grind so sorely missed this past season! There will be assurances that the goal is still to win it all! Hooray for our side! KD and Kyrie will thank Nets fans on their way out of the building. Expect us to be cynical. Fandom’s trust in all sides is in tatters.
In the meantime, thanks Nic Claxton for this moment on Friday night...
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas ... or not.
As Woj and every other pundit noted, Las Vegas is a happening place during the Summer League. GMs get together and talk. We just didn’t expect them to talk in public ,,, with Woj as part of the conversation. But Saturday night, that’s what happened as Sean Marks, Masai Ujiri, president of the Raptors, and Rob Pelinka, vice-president of basketball operations for the Lakers gathered at the back of Thomas and Mack Center.,,
Rob Pelinka, Sean Marks and Masai Ujiri cooking up a 3 team trade with Woj right there? Ujiri indicating to meet out the back— Basketball Forever (@Bballforeverfb) July 10, 2022
Are we witnessing Kevin Durant to #Raptors and Kyrie Irving #Lakers right now at NBA Summer League pic.twitter.com/2xGTGsSIP0
Another angle and you can see a few more familiar faces. That Ryan Gisriel, the Nets director of basketball operations, (in the white shirt) talking to Bobby Marks and Tim Bontemps of ESPN...
There’s a long conversation going on between:— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 9, 2022
Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri.
Nets’ GM Sean Marks.
What are they talking about? pic.twitter.com/A9VFLjOb8I
Woj was also seen talking with Rich Paul, who is LeBron James agent (as well as Ben Simmons)...
What are Woj and Rich Paul talking about? pic.twitter.com/H9Q93eNofg— MyBookie - Bet With The Best (@MyBookie) July 9, 2022
Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving, in town for the players union’s annual meeting, made an entrance sitting not far from Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Jerry West...
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving pulls up to Las Vegas Summer League pic.twitter.com/qsnclp8BmZ— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 10, 2022
Being Kyrie he talked with everyone including former Nets teammate Theo Pinson...
Well, almost everyone...
He also stiffed Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, saying he was there to watch some basketball and wished Alex a good night. In fact, Irving watched two games.
So we ask breathlessly with all this activity, what happened?!? After, all that, Bobby Marks summed it up on ESPN: things are at a standstill! Sigh.
Nets are back on the court Sunday vs. the 76ers with a start time of 3:30 p.m. ET. You can watch on NBA TV. Or you can scan Twitter and see who’s in the stands.
Summing up Off-Season moves ... so far
While all the talk this off-season has been about the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving contract “situation,” the Nets have made moves, most of them under the radar. So to recap, here they are, in order of the official completion of transactions:
—Traded the lesser of their own pick and the 76ers pick in the 2023 NBA Draft for 6’6” wing Royce O’Neale who has two years left on his contract, at $9.2 million and $9.5 million, the second year of which is only partially guaranteed — at $2.5 million. He’s 29. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds over 77 starts last season for Utah, serving as one of the top defenders for a Jazz team that finished 2021-22 with a record of 49-33, good for fifth in the Western Conference.
—Signed 6’5” point guard Alondes Williams for one-year on a two-way deal ($502,000, of which nothing goes on the cap.) Williams is 23. He was ACC Player of the Year at Wake Forest and first player to even lead the conference in both points and assists per game. He led Wake to 25 wins.
—Re-signed 6’8” wing Kessler Edwards to a two-year, $3.6 million vets minimum starting at $1.6 million ($1.6 million goes on the cap) with the second year a team option. He’s 22. Edwards appeared in 48 games (23 starts) in his rookie season, registering averages of 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game with shooting splits of 41/35/84.
—Signed 6’8” combo forward T.J. Warren for one year and the vets minimum ($2.6 million, of which $1.8 million goes on the cap.) Warren spent the past three seasons with the Indiana Pacers and has healed up from the left foot injuries that have troubled him since late 2020. However, Warren did not play in any of Indiana’s games in the 2021-22 season. He’s 28. In his last full season with the Pacers in 2019-20, he averaged 19.8 points and 4.2 rebounds with shooting splits of 54/40/82.
—Re-signed 6’11” center Nic Claxton to a two year, $20 million contract with both years fully guaranteed. He’s 23. Claxton saw action in 47 games (19 starts), registering averages of 8.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 20.7 minutes per game. He shot 67.4 percent from the field and 58.1 percent from the line.
—Signed 6’4” combo guard Edmond Sumner to two year, $3.8 million ($3.6 million goes on the cap) starting at $1.8 million with second year a team option. He’s 26. Sumner did not participate in the 2021-22 season due to a torn left Achilles tendon. In his last full season in 2020-21 with the Pacers, he appeared in 53 games (24 starts) and averaged a career-high 7.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 16.2 minutes. His shooting splits were 52/40/82.
The Nets have also reportedly agreed to re-sign Patty Mills to a two-year, $14.2 million deal. No other contract details will be available till he officially signs.
Brooklyn has yet to use its $6.5 million taxpayers MLE which can be broken into pieces. It also can be used at any point throughout the season. Under league rules, it will not be pro-rated till January 10.
As of Saturday, the Nets had 12 players under contract, counting Durant and Irving but not Mills. It includes Williams two-way deal. The Nets have also tendered a qualifying offer to David Duke Jr., making him a restricted free agent. Brooklyn would prefer to sign Duke to a second year as a two-way, but the 22-year-old would prefer a standard deal.
The Nets have depleted their trade exceptions. They traded O’Neale into the $11.3 million TPE generated by the James Harden trade reducing it to $2.5 million. The $3.6 million Dinwiddie trade exception expired last Wednesday. They still have a $6.3 million TPE generated by the DeAndre Jordan salary dump as well as two smaller exceptions — $1.7 million and $1.3 million. The DJ exception, the most likely to be used, expires August 19.
NBA teams can bring as many as 20 players into training camp, including the two two-ways, so there’s plenty of room for more players to be added. Some of the Summer Leaguers will likely get added to the training camp roster. RaiQuan Gray and Donovan Williams seem good candidates at this point. And if Duke gets a standard contract with the Nets or another team, that would open up a two-way deal.
Who’s still available? As of Saturday night, Keith Smith of Spotrac had this list.
Best available 2022 free agents:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 9, 2022
C. Sexton (R)
J. Nwora (R)
D. Ayton (R)
Any interest there? We have no idea.
If it wasn’t for the continuing K&K Crisis, this would be seen as a decent, if not great off-season. And if Warren and Sumner can return to their pre-injury levels, it could turn out to be better.
Congratulations ... again
On Saturday night, Sabrina Ionescu won the WNBA Skills Competition, part of the league’s All-Star Weekend in Chicago. She’ll also be a starter this afternoon — 1:00 pm ET on ABC — in the weekend’s big game.
It’s been a big week and a half for the 24-year-old New York Liberty star. She’s the league’s reigning Player of the Week and the Month and last week pulled off the third triple double of her career which tied her with Candace Parker for most triple-doubles all-time. That TD — 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists — was also the first 30-point triple double in WNBA history.
Tiago Splitter in his coaching debut has taken Team Brazil to the finals of GLOBL JAM tournament in Toronto. They play Team Canada Sunday.
“This was my first time being a head coach of a team and it was a very special (moment) for me. I don’t think I’m ever going to forget this,” said Splitter after beating Italy earlier in the week. “It was my first W as a head coach and, hopefully, there are many more to come.”
GLOBL JAM is a first-of-its-kind under-23 international basketball tournament hosted by Canada Basketball.
Participating countries in the men’s tournament include the host Canadians, Brazil, Italy and the United States.
Also in Toronto on Sunday, Steve Nash will be inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame. Congrats to him too!
Hang tough, Nets fans. It’s likely going to be another week of wild speculation, maybe something more tangible. Hopefully, the roller coaster goes high this week.