Brooklyn Nets Reportedly Lost $144 Million Last Season

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2014

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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: 

Brooklyn's Payroll Problem
Player2013-14 Salary
Joe Johnson$21,466,718
Deron Williams$18,466,130
Paul Pierce$15,333,334
Brook Lopez$14,694,000
Kevin Garnett$11,532,468
Marcus Thornton$8,165,000
Mirza Teletovic$3,229,050
Andrei Kirilenko$3,183,000
Andray Blatche$1,375,604
Mason Plumlee$1,298,640
Shaun Livingston$1,265,977
Marquis Teague$1,074,720
Alan Anderson$947, 907
Jason Collins$436,316
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. 

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Garnett #2 and Deron Williams #8 walk downcourt during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on November 9, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
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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? 

May 6, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston (14) drives to the basket as Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) during the second half in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: S

According to King, via the New York Post's Tim Bontemps, re-signing names like Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston may take precedent over a slightly more sizable splash. 

"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. 


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