Nets Ownership Gets Brutally Honest About Its Players: ‘Believe Me’

Joe Tsai, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai (C).

For Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, running an NBA franchise is like producing a movie.

“In making a film, there are a lot of problems,” the Alibaba owner said at the ‘BEYOND Expo 2023′ on YouTube on May 10. “We have to decide who to pick. We have to decide actors and actresses. And actors and actresses are human beings. They’re very, very difficult to manage.

“Believe me, I manage a basketball team and the players are very difficult to manage. If you’re in Hollywood, it’s very, very difficult to manage people.”

It is not necessarily groundbreaking nor controversial to say that it can be difficult to deal with human beings. Everyone has heard tales of professional athletes being “difficult”, and Nets fans are no exception having dealt with the high expectations and short duration of the Kevin DurantJames HardenKyrie Irving triumvirate. Tsai had his fill of the Durant-Irving combo as well by the time all was said and done.

They are also well-versed in high-maintenance players thanks to Ben Simmons.

He was traded to Brooklyn for Harden only to shut down after 42 games with another injury setback while the former Nets star has helped the Philadelphia 76ers gain a 3-2 advantage over the Boston Celtics in their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals matchup.

Tsai was speaking on the potential for artificial intelligence to “redefine digital entertainment” amid the emergence of the ChatGPT in recent months. While not necessarily AI, the Nets have also been at the forefront of new technology under Tsai with their use of the “Netsverse”, a joint project with the YES Network.

Again, Tsai’s comments were not as much inflammatory as they are unfiltered honesty from his perspective. How that is received is difficult to say and likely varies from player to player.

This would not be the first time Tsai’s comments rubbed players the wrong way.

Jaylen Brown Came For Joe Tsai Over Kyrie Irving

Tsai came out with an unequivocal denunciation – and suspension – of Irving after the latter shared a video purported to promote anti-semitism saying he nearly cut the guard. For his efforts, Tsai was called out by Irving’s former teammate and Boston Celtics star, Jaylen Brown – who is also the vice president of the NBPA – for saying Irving had “more work to do” before he would be allowed to return citing his questionable governmental ties.

Irving ended up missing eight games and returned to action five days and one game) after Brown’s comments.

The Nets went 5-3 in that span.

But the Celtics swingman is not the only one who has come for Tsai or even reference his connection to foreign powers. Former Boston big man Enes Kanter – who has become a political figure – also went after Tsai, calling the Nets’ owner “spinless”.

Again, both of these situations are far different than what Tsai said at the expo.

It does, however, go to show that Tsai is not one who is afraid to ruffle feathers to do things his way which likely led to the success he has had in the business world.

Nets Bring in N.C. State’s Terquavion Smith

The Nets continued with their draft preparations, hosting NC State guard Terquavion Smith for a private workout on May 10 according to an Instagram story from Smith that has since expired.

Smith is a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists this past season as a sophomore for the Wolfpack. His efficiency – 38% FG, 33% 3P – leaves something to be desired from a guard.

But he is an explosive athlete.

Smith was an All-ACC Second Team selection and led the conference in scoring this past season.

“Smith, 20, is intriguing to NBA teams with his combination of dynamic shot-making, ability to change speeds out of hesitation moves and explosiveness finishing around the rim,” wrote ESPN Draft analyst Jonathan Givony on March 28. “He puts consistent pressure on opposing defenses with his aggressive style, regularly rising up for contested 3-pointers from impressive vantage points.”

He is projected to be the No. 38 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft by Sam Vecenie of The Athletic while the Nets are set to pick at Nos. 20, 22, and 50 overall. The draft will take place on June 22 at the Barclays

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