Tag:New Jersey Nets
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:43 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 2:54 pm

Kobe Bryant offered $6.7 million by Italian team

Posted by Ben Golliverkobe-bryant-drive

There's a new leader in the clubhouse, and it should come as no surprise that it's Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

The Associated Press reports that Bryant, the NBA's highest-paid player, has been offered a $6.7 million contract to play for Virtus Bologna of the Italian Serie A basketball league for a season. That figure is the largest reported offer made to an NBA player during the ongoing NBA lockout. 
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar spent part of his youth in Italy while his father played there. He speaks Italian, prompting Bologna to hope he might return if there's an NBA lockout.

Virtus Bologna general manager Massimo Faraoni tells The Associated Press he's been on conference calls between Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, Bologna president Claudio Sabatini and main sponsor Canadian Solar, which would provide the cash for such a deal.

"I think the fact that he's lived in Italy makes this appealing to him," Faraoni said.

Virtus has given Bryant four different contract options, stretching from the one-year deal to two-month and one-month options, and a per-game deal that would come out to $739,640 per home game.

Bryant's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, played in Italy with Rieti, Reggio Calabria, Pistoia and Reggiana from 1984-1991. The elder Bryant now coaches the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.
This offer, like previously reported short-term offers from Virtus Bologna, includes an opt-out clause should the NBA finally reach a new labor agreement with the National Basketball Players Association.

The size of this offer trumps deals given to New Jersey Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who signed a deal that reportedly could pay him up to $5 million to play for Besiktas of Turkey, and free agent forward Kenyon Martin, who recently signed a Chinese Basketball Association record deal totalling $3 million to play in China for Xingiang Guanghui. Bryant has previously received reported offers or interest from Besiktas and China but those offers were not as clear and firm as this offer appears to be. 

By comparison, the $6.7 million on the table from Virtus Bologna equates to 26.7 percent of what he was set to be paid by the Lakers next season. Bryant was set to make an NBA-high $25.2 million during the 2011-2012 NBA season and is scheduled to make $27.8 million in 2012-2013 and $30.5 million in 2013-2014.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 5:12 pm

Nets owner Prokhorov has bank raided in Russia

Posted by Ben Gollivermikhail-prokhorov-nets

One of life's simple truths: any time masked men with guns enter a bank, it's bad news. Whether it's a robbery or a raid, that situatiion isn't ending well.

For New Jersey Nets owner and eccentric Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and the Moscow bank that he co-owns, it turned out to be a raid by "law enforcement officers" on Thursday.

Reuters.com reports the insane details.
Several luxury cars drew up outside the bank on a busy boulevard near the Kremlin and law enforcement officers, some wearing masks and carrying guns, entered and ordered employees and clients not to leave, Kharitonov said.

"They put all the employees in one area and kept them there for an hour without explaining what was going on," he told reporters. "After an hour, they said there were no claims against the bank, and no searches were carried out."

Asked whether the raid could have been related to Prokhorov's involvement in Right Cause, Kharitonov said, "I cannot rule it out. I don't know, but I think nothing can be ruled out."

Right Cause is a minority Russian political party that Prokhorov heads that is seeking to unseat the country's current government. In other words, the bank could be some kind of political intimidation tactic or early warning to a perceived political threat.

But, really, go read those three paragraphs again. That scene is straight out a movie. What's next? Prokhorov commandeers a helicopter and drops a team of elite commandos on the Russian parliament building? When we think of drama-drawing, headline-stealing Nets owners, we usually think first of Jay-Z. But he can rap about his throne and "all black everything" all he wants, Prokhorov blows him out of the water when it comes to pure intrigue. 

For interested Nets fans, it's not yet clear whether this was the bank where Prokhorov housed the money to pay Travis Outlaw's ridiculous contract. Odds are pretty good that you're still stuck with him. Hopefully Reuters manages a follow-up report to clarify.

Hat tip: NetsDaily.com
Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:02 pm

Deron Williams officially arrives in Turkey

Posted by Royce Young

There was a bit of hemming and hawing over Deron Williams great Turkish adventure, but he's finally there. Officially. Pictures, video and reports prove it. (Here's a video of him arriving with a crowd surrounding him.)

Williams arrived wearing a Texas Rangers ballcap and had his wife and four children to join his new team, Besiktas, which begins play later this month. The team is starting training camp and to fulfill his duties under contract, Williams is there now.

Hopefully this little paid vacation is short lived though because Williams does possess an NBA opt-out clause that would allow him to return to the Nets if the lockout is resolved.

Via Nets Daily
Posted on: September 7, 2011 12:38 pm

Deron Williams isn't in Turkey still

Posted by Royce Young

Deron Williams was supposed to leave for his new Turkish team a week ago.
He didn't.

The reason? Via HoopsWorld, it was because of "passport troubles." And if everything is sorted, Williams is set to leave Wednesday to join Besiktas.

It's kind of those "We'll believe it when we see it" type of things. Because as last week's reports noted, Williams might get cold feet and use his former wrist injury as a solid excuse not to go or at least to cut it short.

Williams did say this recently about his journey to Turkey though: "I'm excited. I think it'll be exciting to go over there and play basketball, for one, while everybody else isn't. It'll just be an exciting time for my family. See a new culture."

You kind of have to actually go there to see it though. I'm sure Williams will at some point. He does have the opt-out clause and while there's a small sense of building optimism surrounding the CBA negotiations, nothing is close to done. Williams might be trying to wait and see how the recently scheduled meetings go, or he really just might be having passport issues.

He's supposed to leave today. So we'll see.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm

Realigning the NBA

Posted by Royce Young

Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:


San Antonio
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.


Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.



Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

New York
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
Posted on: September 3, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 3:50 pm

NBA's five most risky overseas signings

Posted by Ben Golliverderon-williams

University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly recently was asked whether he felt it was a risky move to schedule his team's opener against perennial power LSU rather than a directional school doormat.

"There's risk waking up and getting out of bed in the morning," Kelly replied. "It's all about how you look at life."

Kelly's defense of his aggressive schedule-making shouldn't be read as reckless. Certainly, there's risk in getting out of bed in the morning and there's risk in standing in front of a locomotive. Those risks clearly aren't equivalent and, in turn, the decision-making behind each shouldn't be viewed in the same light. Kelly, one of college football's most notorious gamblers, might view an early season test as a net-positive for his team, even if it results in a loss, but he surely wouldn't schedule a full 12-game slate of top competition if he intended on cashing in on the incentives in his contract and winning a national title. An early, tough test can be great preparation and won't sink a season; a four-month long gauntlet of tough tests would be foolish and, ultimately, suicidal. 

As self-protecting creatures, humans are remarkably good at assessing risk on the fly. We know danger when we see it, we can process the presence of warning signs in advance, we can coach ourselves to be patient and, if all else fails, our "flight" instincts kick in and we run the other way as fast as possible. 

We've learned this summer that professional basketball players possess those very same skills. Indeed, in more than two months since the NBA lockout went into effect, RidiculousUpside.com has tracked more than 50 NBA players, free agents and draft picks who have agreed to play overseas should there be a work stoppage or cancellation of the 2011-12 NBA season. Yet when you survey the list of names, you realize that it's a carefully self-selected group.

That self-selection process boils down to risk-assessment. The guys on the list, by and large, fit a number of key criteria. They don't have a lot of guaranteed money remaining on their NBA contracts, assuming they have league contracts in place. The majority do not have a major role in their team's rotation. Almost all are young and have not reached the prime of their careers. Just about everyone is in good health too. 

This is no accident. The three biggest risks for a professional basketball player involved in a move overseas are: 1) a catastrophic injury that causes the loss of guaranteed money already owed 2) an injury of any magnitude that prevents or limits future earnings 3) the loss of NBA opportunities by virtue of being "off the map." The type of players most subject to these risks -- stars, veterans in their prime, fringe veterans with injury histories, up-and-coming players with the potential to be stars, first round draft picks in 2011 waiting on guaranteed rookie deals -- by and large have opted to wait out the lockout. They've spied the railroad tracks, heard a whistle out in the distance and opted to stand clear. It's a bit of a bummer for the viewing public who would prefer to watch these guys perform, but if your brother or son made the same decision, you wouldn't just approve, you would be proud of his common sense.

Not everyone has been completely careful, though. It's fair to say that no NBA player has yet made a reckless decision with their career, but there are a few who have more at stake and are risking more in agreeing to play overseas. Here's a look at the top five riskiest overseas signings of the summer so far.

5. Nicolas Batum, F Portland Trail Blazers

There aren't many budding stars among the group that has committed to play overseas next season, and some would dispute whether Batum, 22, has star potential. With that said, he started on a playoff team at age 20, has established a reputation as an above-average defender, has developed his offensive game each year in the pros (despite a relatively cold shooting year from outside in 2010-11) and is viewed as a core building block piece. He complements the team's franchise player, forward LaMarcus Aldridge, nicely and has an upbeat attitude that is endearing to fans and a solid work ethic that appeals to coach Nate McMillan.

The risk in the move overseas for Batum isn't his current contract, as he's still tied into a rookie deal through next season. Instead it's all about the threat of injury, as Batum missed more than half of his second season in the NBA with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Batum is clearly thinking with his heart as much as his head in signing with SLUC Nancy of France; he wants a chance to play in front of his home country's fans and is a gym rat who has played year-round for years, thanks to his participation with Team France. Batum plays a hard, two-way, high-flying game and isn't afraid to lay his body out. The Blazers figure to offer Batum a long-term, big-dollar extension in the future. Risking that by playing overseas this year isn't an insane proposition. 

4. Ty Lawson, G, Denver Nuggets

Lawson, like Batum, is still locked into a rookie deal that pays him below what he would be worth on the open market. Even though he's only played two years in the NBA, Lawson has done well to establish a very high earnings potential. An excellent outside shooter and one of the league's fastest players, Lawson transitioned into a starting role last season and watched as Denver traded his competition for the job -- Raymond Felton -- to Portland for veteran Andre Miller, who probably makes more sense as a backup at this point in his career. In other words, Lawson was handed the keys to the Nuggets' car at an early age and, given how many players they are likely to lose in free agency, he should have all the touches and shots he wants to start building a track record that will mean a big payday down the road.

Foot and ankle injuries have limited Lawson during his UNC days and as a Nugget, but he's coming off a season in which he appeared in all but two games. The risk here is simply future earning potential. It's possible that his time with Zalgiris in Lithuania will help him improve -- or at least maintain -- his skills. But the uncertainty in adjusting to a new country, team, style of play and everything else looms over a young man already tasked with helping rebuild an NBA team in transition.  

3. Nikola Pekovic, F, Minnesota Timberwolves

Would you believe that Pekovic in second only to Deron Williams on the list of players who have the most guaranteed money coming to them on NBA deals who have committed to playing overseas? It's amazing what a terrible David Kahn contract is capable of! Pekovic, a plodding 25 year old big man who played just 13.6 minutes per game in his rookie season, has $4.5 million coming to him in 2011-12 and another $4.9 million coming to him in 2012-2013. When you look at those numbers compared to his production, your first thought is, "Don't blow it by getting injured! You'll never sucker another GM into giving you those numbers!"

Pekovic's risk is mitigated here because he's familiar with the overseas game, having played professionally there since 2003. He's set to return to one of his old clubs -- Partizan Belgrade in Serbia -- next season. Those familiar surroundings plus the ground-bound, tough-guy nature of his game limit his exposure. Plus, the worst case scenario is that Minnesota is able to void his contract. Given that assistant GM Tony Ronzone simply walked off the job this week, maybe that's not so bad after all.

2. Wilson Chandler, F, Denver Nuggets

Maybe the most curious move of the summer was Chandler's decision to sign a one-year deal in China, a contract that prevents him from returning to the NBA in the event that the labor situation is resolved. In other words, Chandler has already sacrificed the difference in money between the $3.1 million he would have made next season with the Nuggets and the reported roughly $2 million that he will make with Zhejiang Guangsha. 

That's not the only money that was at stake for Chandler, though. Chandler was set to become a restricted free agent in a weak crop, meaning there would have been some fairly good-sized dollars available to him. Denver, of course, would have been highly motivated to match any offers given their newfound weakness at wing following the team's trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. One way or another, he was getting paid and the amount would have been significantly higher than what he's receiving in China. The only potential reason for taking the Chinese money and running is if Chandler simply doesn't want to play in Denver long-term. The most likely result for most coveted restricted free agents is they sign multi-year deals with their current team. If Chandler didn't like his new, post-Knicks digs, the move makes a little bit more sense, as he can potentially return to the NBA waters down the road as an unrestricted free agent. But will an NBA absence affect his perceived value?  

1. Deron Williams, G, New Jersey Nets 

This one shouldn't come as a surprise. Williams bucked convention by becoming the only current NBA All-Star to agree to play overseas, signing a much-ballyhooed deal with Besiktas of Turkey. Name a risk and it applies to Williams. He has $16.4 million coming to him in 2011-2012 and could pick up a player option for $17.8 million more if he wants, or he could enter free agency next summer and be a no-brainer candidate for a max contract. He has a lingering wrist injury that required surgery and is reportedly still giving him problems. He's 27 years old and primed to enter his peak NBA years. Put all of that together and Williams has -- by far -- the most to lose of anyone on this list. Sure, he's already made more than $43 million in career earnings, but he's got far more than that coming to him over the next 5-7 years.

Even considering all of those negative warning signs, his decision is defensible. The Nets mortgaged their entire franchise to trade for him and they could not be more motivated to retain him. At some point, it's more than likely they will literally beg him to sign a max extension. They have no choice; the rest of the roster has proven it's not competitive and the team is not a desireable free agent destination, at least until the move to Brooklyn is completed. In other words, Williams has New Jersey over a barrel and he knows it. He's in a position where he can cash checks from Besitkas while staying in shape and pull the "injured wrist" card and come back to the United States if he isn't comfortable with the team, the country or his accomodations overseas.

When you look at it like that, even the riskiest overseas signing starts to seem like a bit of a no-brainer.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 12:49 pm

Deron Williams reporting to Turkish team Thursday

Posted by Royce Young

Thursday's the day for Deron Williams. The day he packs up and leaves the United States and heads to join his new team, Besiktas, in Turkey. Or at least it's supposed to be.

Williams has promised that he was going to follow through with the contract he signed with the club back in July. He was the first big name star to sign overseas and though it wasn't for a ton of money (reportedly $250,000 a month), it was a good negotiating tactic for the players and something he wanted to do.

Here's the question though: How long will Williams be there? Not in the sense of how long will the lockout last, but how long will he stay in Turkey even if the NBA season is cancelled? Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News has his doubts:

It's a fair question, since even the Nets' star playmaker admitted just this past weekend that his surgically repaired right wrist still isn't fully healthy. He had three bone fragments and scar tissue removed in April and it's been a slower rehab process than expected. He was told recovery would be no longer than two months, which should have had him ready to roll in July.

"I've still got some strengthening and breaking up scar tissue," he said. "That's the process with any surgery."

But his recovery has been closely watched because several NBA team executives think that his wrist issues will give him a perfectly legitimate excuse to bail on Besiktas, a second-tier team, if he finds that living in Turkey isn't for him. The countdown for his return to the U.S. will start in earnest the first time he gets hacked on the wrist.

It's a good question and it's a good excuse for Williams to leave. He has an opt-out and the money he's making isn't an amount that would make have to stay. Or buy himself out if he had to.

If he gets to Turkey and the travel is horrible, food is bad, practices are long and his coach is decapitating goats on the court, he might decide, "You know what, my wrist kind of hurts. Gonna go home now." Certainly a possibility.

Here's what Williams said last week about his trip to Turkey: "I'm excited," he said last Saturday, about his new overseas career. "I think it'll be exciting to go over there and play basketball, for one, while everybody else isn't. It'll just be an exciting time for my family. See a new culture."
That's how he feels now. Let's see if that changes in a month.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 10:19 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 10:22 pm

Video: The Humphries-Kardashian royal wedding

Posted by Royce Young

You may have heard, but Nets forward Kris Humphries married some chick named Kim Kardashian over the weekend. It was lovely, or that's what people are saying. There's honestly not a lot more to say about this, because it was a wedding that featured a marginal NBA player and a reality TV star that is famous simply because she's famous -- or something -- so let's just take you to the video of it and leave it there.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com