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NetsDaily Off-Season Report - No. 13

Every weekend, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help fans get ready for ... whatever.

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SNAFU was an acronym devised by U.S. servicemen in World War II. It stands for “Situation Normal, All Fouled Up” — or it you prefer something a bit more crude and not suitable for a family website such as this.

At least publicly, that appears to be the case with the Nets current situation. Although Brian Lewis has reported that there has been been contact among the parties in the last month, there doesn’t appear to be a resolution or close to one, particularly when talking about Kevin Durant’s (reported) trade request. It’s been a month since he made it and again, as far as we know, nothing is close. The NBA, including Sean Marks and Steve Nash, went on vacation after Summer League in Las Vegas. Things are quiet.

Durant hasn’t spoken in the last month. He has tweeted but the only tweet that could vaguely be related to his contract situation he deleted. In it, he wrote, ”The ones who were locked in that gym with me know what it is, they know what I’m about. If u haven’t been in there with me, ask around.”

He did appear at the premiere of his documentary about New York point guards this week, but didn’t take questions. Rich Kleiman, his business partner, did discuss where he’s at in talking to the Washington Post at the premiere.

“[Durant is] where he’s at every summer,” Rich Kleiman told Ben Golliver. “He has an insane work ethic. He’s in the gym every single day. He relies on his routine and the work he puts into the game. He’s 15 years in the NBA. We’re 10 years working together. Every time you think something is the end of the world, or you think you’ve got to go hide out in a hut and disappear from the world, you realize it’s just life. He’s focused on that, and all the other stuff will figure itself out.”

Meanwhile, the only deal that seems to have any traction in one with the Celtics who reportedly are willing to give up Jaylen Brown and Derrick White plus one first rounder for Durant. The Nets want more, including Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and as many as five picks, per Shams Charania. And as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe have said, that discussion took place two weeks ago.

Things are a little less quiet with Kyrie Irving who as Lewis and Shams Charania report wants to return to the Nets, has every intention to do so, per their reports, whether KD is back or not. Whether the Nets want him back is another story.

In the last 24 hours, Irving appears to have pushed things along.

“I don’t ever have to gas myself up. I am going on my twelfth year in the best league in the world and I am only getting better,” the 30-year-old tweeted. “When I am 38 years old and have time to reflect on my career truly, I will do so, but until then, I am enjoying every moment. And no I won’t be done playing basketball at 38 years old lol, I’ll be in leagues all over the world playing and teaching the youth all that was taught to me.”

Irving has many reasons for wanting to stay in the New York area. He said when he signed with the Nets that being close to his family was the driving force behind his decision. He has become even more entrenched since, noting how he has bought a lot of property in New Jersey for his family, joking at one point, “Once I moved back I brought in a lot of property in Jersey, the taxes are terrible, but I’ll have to talk to our governor about that.”

As Alex Schiffer noted in an Athletic roundtable that his desire to return may not be enough.

“I’m still skeptical he’s a Net next season,” he said. “Would it surprise me? No. He’s from the area, and has a home and newborn there along with the rest of his family. But the vibe I got with the Nets was that last season was such a mess that they don’t want to run it back unless significant changes are made.”

Nick Wright on FOX Sports was less diplomatic, as always:

“The idea that Kyrie Irving actually wants to stay in Brooklyn, with or without Kevin Durant, I do not believe to be true,” he said. “I don’t think Kyrie’s actually the good guy, and I don’t necessarily buy this.”

On the other hand, Marc Stein reports that the market for Irving continues to shrink. The Lakers, the only team linked to Irving, is unwilling to part with their last two remaining first round picks, in 2027 and 2029, in any deal. He wrote:

The Lakers’ well-chronicled lack of trade assets, meanwhile, has scuttled their attempts to pry Irving away from the Nets or even complete one of the fallback trades they’ve discussed, such as with Indiana to acquire Myles Turner and Buddy Hield (or Hield solo).

Seemingly no one wants to make a trade with L.A. without getting back both of the Lakers’ two first-round picks they’re able to trade (2027 and 2029). The Lakers, to this point, have shown a willingness to surrender only one of the two … and, depending on the trade partner, they figure to seek protections on that pick rather than sending it out unprotected.

The Nets have been notably quiet. The only thing approaching news was Joe Tsai’s one-word retweet of a video from the “NYC Point Gods” red carpet in which legendary point guards suggested almost to a man that Irving is the NBA point guard most likely to survive the city’s blacktop culture. That one word was “truth.”

What’s next? Will things change when the the NBA’s executives, all sun-tanned and optimistic, return? Shams and Adrian Wojnarowski said this week that KD still wants out while many fans hope that he’ll change his mind, allowing the team to “run it back,” or as Jay Williams has said on ESPN, “Last Dance II.” (We’re not getting into how lazy that comparison is. Suffice it to say there were differences between a five-time defending champion Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls and the current iteration of the Nets.)

Zach Lowe on Saturday wrote up a lengthy analysis both of the Nets situation and what Jaylen Brown can do for you. In discussing the prospects for a trade, he pointed to training camp as crunchtime, saying while the Nets are hoping Durant will rescind his request,

The Nets are probably waiting for Durant’s camp to realize that, and maybe for Durant to retract his trade request. The Nets have not given up on this scenario, sources say.

He also suggested that the ugliness of a sulking superstar might motivate Tsai to take less than what’s being offered.

Even if Durant reports, will he be content? Will he sulk? Will trade talk become a day-to-day distraction? The Nets may not want to live that scenario. It’s draining. The wild card has always been whether Joe Tsai, the Nets governor, would ever mandate his front office just do a deal: take 70 cents on the dollar, end the melodrama, move on. Rival suitors are hoping for that kind of intervention.

Lowe thinks a deal centered on Durant for Brown would benefit both sides but suggested the devil is in the details, particularly who the Celtics would add in a package. He thinks the Nets should push for Robert Williams III rather than Marcus Smart.

Of course, the Nets would want much more than Brown. The ask probably starts with Marcus Smart and multiple picks, some unprotected swap rights, perhaps another young player. (The Nets should ask for Robert Williams III over Smart. Maybe they’d do that if talks ever develop further. Maybe they think Boston views Williams III as a non-starter.)

Lowe also laid out how Boston could think it has the bargaining power:

The Celtics might argue Brooklyn is not in a strong negotiating position. What’s the best offer right now? The Toronto Raptors don’t want to even discuss Scottie Barnes, sources say. Have Toronto and Brooklyn even had a detailed conversation? Do we know for sure Phoenix has offered or will offer the best it can do for now: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, four unprotected first-round picks and three swaps? Does Brooklyn have any interest in Miami Heat packages that don’t include Bam Adebayo?

While a lot of pundits and fans point to the opening of camp and Media Day the last week of September as the moment of truth for the Nets and their superstars, things could come to a head even earlier. The NBA doesn’t permit teams to practice together until the official opening of camp BUT most players gather at their team’s practice facilities a month earlier, around Labor Day weekend, for informal scrimmages. What happens if nothing changes on the trade front and Irving shows up while Durant stays away. Expect days and days of reports and rumors of who’s in, who’s out, who might be coming back, what players on hand think of those who are not.

Looking further down the road, there are likely to be broader ramifications for the league and its players. The NBA is swimming in money — its $10 billion in revenues this past season are only a billion dollars shy of what the NFL took in — and its TV/streaming rights deal could triple in the next two years. So no one wants to rock the boat. That said, the Nets season has been a case study of how contracts mean little in the upper strata of the NBA.

As Brian Lewis wrote Saturday...

[T]he recent actions of Durant — along with those of Ben Simmons, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, all Durant teammates in Brooklyn at some points this past season — have caught the eye of NBA owners, and not in a good way.

Stars forcing their way out of contracts was already a topic of conversation for the owners, and that was before Durant’s stunning trade request days before his four-year, max contract extension had even kicked in.

One day to be exact. KD reportedly made his trade request on June 30, the day before his four-year, $198 million contract kicked in. As Lewis wrote, the NBA commissioner hinted at the issue when he spoke at Summer League in Las Vegas.

“Look, this needs to be a two-way street,” Adam Silver said. “Teams provide enormous security and guarantees to players, and the expectation is, in return, they’ll meet their end of the bargain. I’m realistic that there’s always conversations that are going to go on behind closed doors between players and their representatives and the teams. But we don’t like to see players requesting trades, and we don’t like to see it playing out the way it is.”

There are ways for the league, in negotiations for the next CBA, to push for some protections and Tsai can be expected to be in the lead. But the players union, which wants more player empowerment, is likely to resist anything less than fully guaranteed deals for its players, particularly those at the top rung of the salary ladder ... and those players have long dominated the NBPA.

Push could come to shove on this in December, as Lewis noted.

The current CBA, which determines revenue distribution, player contracts, the league salary cap and more, runs through the 2023-24 season. But the league and the players association each have the right to opt out by Dec. 15, at which time the two sides would have to begin negotiations on a new deal.

Just something else to look forward to.

Face of the Nets ... by default

When the F.C. Barcelona soccer team dropped by the HSS Training Center this week, greeting the Spaniards were two Australians, Ben Simmons and Patty Mills. They were apparently the two highest profile Nets players on hand and the Nets marketing team made the most of it.

As did F.C. Barcelona...

Simmons, as of the moment, is the only member of the Nets “Big Three” to be working out at HSS Training Center and although much of the off-season attention has been focused on his superstar teammates, Simmons seems both happy and healthy (following back surgery nearly three months ago now.)

Sixers fans may continue to ride him but Ben Simmons has the skills to be an NBA superstar. To recount (again), he was the overall No. 1 pick, the Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star, two time All-Defense, and runner-up in the Defensive Player of the Year. He has also led the league in steals. And he seems genuinely happy to be in Brooklyn. And putting aside the vitriol he faced in Philly, he is immensely popular with 6.4 million followers on Instagram and one million on Twitter.

He also has a superstar fiancée in Maya Jama, the British TV presenter who this week went after a fan on Instagram who said that Simmons should be working out more. “He’s in the gym every day,” she retorted (before later deleting the comment.)

And yes, it was good to see Patty Mills with him at the F.C. Barcelona drop-by. The presence of Mills and the rest of the Nets Australian Mafia has to be a big help for Simmons.

So there’s your good news this week!

Busy week for Nets video

Speaking of Nets marketing, they have a new video feature called “On Location,” giving fans some behind-the-scenes coverage. The first episode looked at the Nets Summer League experience.

Matt Riccardi, the Long Island Nets GM and Brooklyn’s Director of Scouting Operations, J.R. Holden, the Nets director of player personnel, and Adam Caporn, the newly named assistant coach and head coach of the Summer League squad were all featured.

In addition, the Nets posted videos this week featuring the Las Vegas exploits of Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, Kessler Edwards, and David Duke Jr. No word yet on whether Duke will get a standard NBA deal from the Nets or another NBA club. The Nets can match if another team makes him an offer.

It was also good to see Edmond Sumner getting out and about in the community this week, traveling to Felician College in New Jersey to have some fun with a Nets Academy camp.

Roster Update

There were no signings this week and the Nets stand at 12 guaranteed contracts including Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving as well as one partially guaranteed deal in Sumner and one two-way in Alondes Williams. The Nets can bring up to 20 players into training camp. They still have the taxpayers MLE available at up to $6.5 million a year. So there is some flexibility.

It should be noted, putting all the uncertainty aside, the Nets were still signing players in September of last year.

Long Island Nets moving?

There was an intriguing if not detailed comment this week from the Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman about the future of Nassau Coliseum. Blakeman in talking about the future of the nearly 50-year-old facility in Uniondale told amNY that it would be “difficult” to keep the Nassau Coliseum — the former home of the New York Islanders — “in its present form.”

The Coliseum, despite a nine-figure renovation five years ago, is a victim of competition. The new Belmont Park Arena and to a lesser degree Barclays Center has hurt its ability to attract concerts — none are scheduled until October — and its ownership is murky after Mikhail Prokhorov abandoned the arena at the start of the pandemic.

At this point, its only tenants are the Long Island Nets and the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League.

“We are very mindful that the Coliseum is dark more than it’s not,” Blakeman said. “And that they have tremendous competition, especially coming from UBS Arena, and that they might have to look at a different model.

“Whether the Coliseum survives is still in question but again, we’re open-minded.”

The real value of the Coliseum is the 77 acres surrounding the arena which has long been viewed as a “hub” for the county but every plan to develop it has failed.

Again, without providing details, Blakeman said that he expects that there will be some athletic presence at a redeveloped site regardless of how the land is redeveloped but didn’t go into details other than to say will be an announcement in “the next couple weeks” about a partnership between Nassau County and the Nets. AMNY reported that the county and the Nets had a meeting about a week and a half ago about the G League affiliate’s future.

“I’m very happy to have an NBA G-League team here and I think that we’ve missed opportunities to help them more. Because helping them helps us,” Blakeman said.

So, assuming the Coliseum gets knocked down, that would mean the Nets would have to find a new venue, presumably in Nassau County for their games which are now sparsely attended. The Coliseum is among the G League’s best venues despite its flaws. In 2019, the Nets had to move its home games in the G League Finals to Stony Brook University’s gym because of a conflict with a family show at the Coliseum. Stony Brook is in Suffolk County, however.

We might hear more this week.

YES to stream games

Also expect to hear this week about a new streaming service for the YES Network. Yankee president Randy Levine told the “Carton and Roberts” show this week that the service will likely mimic that of the Red Sox’s NESN360 which was launched this season. It is a pay site.

“You have to provide coverage for all of your fan base,” Levine reportedly said. “Younger fans tend to stream. You’re going to see a direct-to-consumer package come out from YES very, very soon.”

According to Front Office Sports, streaming channel will carry Yankees and Nets games. How will it all affect the YES Network coverage? How much will it cost? What about blackouts? Expect those questions to be answered too.

Final Note

Hope for the best, of course, but in doing so, have some skepticism that it will all work out.