NBA

Nets owner Joe Tsai promises team rebuild with ‘longer-term approach’

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The Brooklyn franchise knows the dangers of making short-term decisions and going all-in for star players in hopes of title contention. After the poor results that ensued after their blockbuster trades involving Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets are probably the biggest example in the NBA that you need to start small, smart and trust the process.

Despite hiring probably the biggest star-packed trio in league history, they only lasted two seasons together in New York, as it culminated in a second-round loss to the Bucks in 2021. After this failure, each one of their superstars left to pursue their dreams elsewhere.

After another poor NBA season, team owner Joe Tsai has decided to change strategies as he acknowledged that the Nets need a new direction. “I want to build a winning mentality and culture that’s sustainable,” he said last week at J.P. Morgan’s Global China Summit in Shanghai.

“Those two are very different things. If you just want to be win-now you could ruin your future by trading away all of your assets but I think what I want to do with the Brooklyn Nets is take a longer-term approach and build a sustainable, winning culture,” he continued.

When he was asked of his approach as an NBA owner, he said that no one should ever expect him to be the face of the franchise, as it’s not about him at all. “I think being the owner of a sports team in a major American sports league is a rarefied existence because there are so few. There are 32 NFL teams, 30 NBA teams: That’s it. So you can end up treating yourself too seriously,” Tsai shared not long ago.

“So my first principle is don’t treat yourself too seriously. Don’t become the face of the franchise, because it’s not about you. Fans don’t care about you: They care about the players. They care about the star players,” he assured.

According to Joe, the fans are always protagonist in sports. “And the second thing about owning a sports franchise is who do you work for? You work for the fans. So you have to come in with that mindset, especially when you own a major sports team in a major city,” Tsai concluded.

This past season Brooklyn deposited their trust on their rookie players much more than ever before

We can already tell that a lot is changing in the Nets organization, especially the way they approach their squad’s growth and basketball philosophy. This past campaign, their three rookies had an important role in their team, proving that they wish to develop long-term players, instead of depending on blockbuster superstars.

Jalen Wilson is the perfect example, as he was first expected to only be one of Brooklyn’s two-way players and would spend most of the season in the G League. However, he ended up competing in more than half of the squad’s regular-season games. “I think when you say 82 games like you don’t really realize like 82 games,” he said about the expectations he had on his rookie season, after participating in 43 matches in total.

The most he had ever played was a 37-game campaign with the Jayhawks in Kansas. “Like, (in) college, you’re lucky to play like 30, 35 games. Like, you’re lucky that (you’re) one of the teams that go on and play March Madness and stuff like that,” he explained. “So being able to play like almost every single other day, it’s cool.”

As for Noah Clowney, his coach also praised him contributions. “[Clowney] had a great end of the season showing what he can do in real NBA minutes and now we have high expectations for him — Keep getting better because now he’s not the same player that he was before,” said the Brooklyn coach.