The Brooklyn Nets are in organizational limbo following a swap that sent head coach Jason Kidd to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for two second-round picks, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard and Marc Stein.
However, Brooklyn's problems aren't limited to office politics and power struggles.
Kidd's departure aside, the Nets are in murky financial waters, according to Grantland's Zach Lowe, who reports that owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King's careless spending and neglect of the league's luxury tax has left the team in the red to a massive degree:
The basketball side of the Nets' business is projected to have lost $144 million over the 2013-14 season, according to a confidential memo the league sent to all 30 teams in early June. (Grantland has reviewed and verified the memo with a half-dozen sources.) If that strikes you as out of whack, that's because it is.
The NBA expects nine teams will end up having lost money once luxury-tax distribution and revenue-sharing payments are finalized. The Nets, with that monster $144 million figure, are the biggest losers. Next in line? The Wizards, with projected losses of about $13 million. That's right: The Nets lost $131 million more than any other NBA team last season. This is what happens when you pay $90 million in luxury tax for an aging roster and play in a market so large you are ineligible to receive any revenue-sharing help.
Brooklyn's pursuit of a title has come at a staggering cost, but that's not surprising given how its books shaped up last season.
Just take a look at the team's $102.6 million payroll from the 2013-14 campaign:
|Alan Anderson||$947, 907|
|Jorge Gutierrez||$121, 103|
|Travis Outlaw (Amnestied)||$4,000,000|
According to HoopsHype, Brooklyn's books were stacked to such an extent that its payroll exceeded that of the New York Knicks by more than $18 million and bested the superstar-laden Miami Heat by nearly $22 million. Those clubs ranked second and third in payroll, respectively, while the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls rounded out the top five.
And how about the clubs whose numbers were in the black?
According to Lowe, the Lakers remain the Association's most profitable team, having generated a shade over $100 million last season.
After that, the Chicago Bulls ($61 million), Houston Rockets ($40.7 million), Boston Celtics ($33.1 million) and small-market wonder Oklahoma City Thunder (approximately $29 million) comprise the league's most financially prosperous clubs.
So where do the Nets go from here?
"Sometimes it's great to go buy the new car, but sometimes the car you had runs better than the new one," King said.
But as Bontemps mentions, keeping Livingston in tow may be more challenging than it appears on the surface, as the Nets will only be able to offer him the taxpayer mid-level exception. For this coming season, the mini mid-level exception is slated to come in at just over $3 million.
Beyond that, the Nets will need to play with the hand they've dealt themselves.
Salary-cap relief isn't in sight until the summer of 2015, but even then, the team won't have much room to maneuver. According to HoopsHype, the Nets currently have a shade under $63 million committed in salaries for the 2015-16 campaign.
But these days when we're talking about the Nets, it's important to remember that ambition tends to be the modus operandi of their billionaire owner.
Financial prudence has never been one of Prokhorov's defining characteristics, nor should it be given that his net worth currently sits at $10.9 billion, according to Forbes.
And while that figure may have declined from $18 billion in March 2011, Prokhorov still has plenty of change to throw around should he see a way to feasibly shake things up once again.