76ers coach Brett Brown, who went 75-253 (.229) in the four previous seasons combined, understands what Kenny Atkinson is going through as the coach of a team in the midst of a long-term rebuilding phase. “What I see is that he’s [Kenny Atkinson] really good at what they’re doing,” Brown said. “We went overboard with development, we went overboard with relationships, tried to hold the locker room together. Make them feel they had worth and help them. You blink, and five years later we’re in a pretty good spot. We’ve got a young foundation and we like the direction we’re pointing. From afar looking across the fence at this team – and Sean Marks is a very close friend of mine – they get Jeremy [Lin] healthy and the style of play, I can see they’re heading in the right direction. We’ve got respect for them.”
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At the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Sean Marks made what looks to be the best move of his tenure so far when he signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie out of the D-League. “Spencer Dinwiddie could be the most improved player in the league,” a Southwest Division executive said. “I think Oladipo will win the award, but Dinwiddie basically got cut by two teams, went to the D-League and turned into a legitimate starter. I think that’s a credit to their player development and their culture.”
Now, almost exactly two years since current GM Sean Marks was given the league’s version of “Mission Impossible,” Brooklyn’s rebuilding process is further along than anticipated, albeit still a long way from finished. “Under the circumstances, Marks has been good,” a Northwest Division executive told The Athletic. “The cupboard was empty there.” A fellow Central Division executive concurred. “They play hard every night, have a style they are committed to playing, and there is more hope than despair there now.”
Spencer Dinwiddie, who spoke to Roberts about a number of issues, including the Nets inability to get calls late, said he noticed the Nets commitment as soon as he arrived 13 months ago. “Honestly, my very first impression of Brooklyn was the culture of development. I thought they were very invested in the guys they chose to be a part of that.”
Mark Bartlestein, Carroll’s agent, is confident Nets general manager Sean Marks and Atkinson aren’t looking to move his client. “I’m sure there’s a lot of teams interested in DeMarre,” Bartlestein said. “He affects the game in a lot of different ways, and a lot of people would love to have him. But I know Sean Marks and Kenny value him big-time. I know for sure they’re not trying to trade him. There’s always conversations around the league and anything can happen, but I know the Brooklyn Nets put a great value on DeMarre . . . I want to make sure people realize that.”
“The biggest thing that Infor has done for us is making us more efficient,” says Marks as the video cuts to a shot of Trevor Booker looking at an iPad showing a replay of game action. “Our players when they’re using their app and they’re seeing their performance stats, their game stats, how those things marry, we’re educating them. Infor has done a really nice job there.” Phillips, CEO of Infor, said of “engaging” with the Nets, “Data science is invading every industry and we thought this was a cool opportunity to help a local team … trying to make them a better team.”
Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment announced Thursday that they will be moving corporate offices, including the Nets business operations, to Industry City next year. They will lease —and renovate— the floor directly below the HSS Training Center.. Business operations have been headquartered at Metro Tech, Bruce Ratner’s office complex in the borough. The lease at Metro Tech was up … and consolidating office space has been an organization goal since the Nets chose the Industry City site on 39th Street just off Upper New York Bay.
There’s no official sale book bouncing around yet when it comes to the Brooklyn Nets, but already the investment bank Allen & Co. has received several expressions of interest, The Post has learned. The basketball team owned by billionaire Russian Mikhail Prokhorov hoped to fetch around $2 billion, but we hear one interested party has been trying to box out others in the sale process.
A source told On the Money that Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai has expressed an interest in the team, though reps for his family office, Blue Pool, deny it. Reports suggest the Nets want to find a Chinese backer — not surprising given the success of Yao Ming with the Houston Rockets, which are also for sale.
As the league descended upon Toronto for All-Star Weekend in February 2016, the Nets were leaning toward hiring Bryan Colangelo over Marks, according to sources familiar with the process. During All-Star Saturday night, Razumov and R.C. Buford, then Marks’ boss as the Spurs’ GM, had a long talk in the chairman’s suite inside the Air Canada Centre, according to several sources. Buford’s message was clear: The Spurs might not grant Marks permission to take the job unless he would get to do it his way. Several other executives, including Bob Myers, the Warriors’ GM, also praised Marks in chats with Razumov that weekend, sources say.
In addition to the two years and $30 million remaining on Carroll’s contract, the Nets are also swallowing the remaining $48 million over three years on Timofey Mozgov’s contract, and $20 million over three years on Andrew Nicholson’s deal (a low-key salary dump in the Bojan Bogdanovic trade). For their troubles, the Nets landed the no. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, D’Angelo Russell, the no. 22 pick in the 2017 draft, Jarrett Allen, and a first-rounder (lotto protected) and second-rounder in 2018. The Nets are harvesting youth, and aren’t afraid to pay to continue accumulating assets.
Either way, the door may not be completely shut on Caldwell-Pope. Position won’t be an issue if price isn’t. “We’re still at that stage where you’d hate to say ‘we’re only going to look at this’ or ‘we’re only going to look at that position’,’’ Marks said. “For us, who knows what’s going to come our way? We’ve got to stay pretty fluid in who we’re looking at and explore all our different options.”
Atkinson said Saturday adding a veteran at a position of need was a distinct possibility. “Sure, I think it’s possible,” Atkinson said. “We’ve got to see how things play out with everything, but I do think [Marks and I] both agree that we don’t want to go in with a totally young roster. We do need that veteran support. If it’s the right position where somebody can help us, it’s definitely something [to consider].”
Building slowly for a new arena wasn’t an option — and it dictated most of the moves by King — but not protecting draft picks and agreeing to unnecessary pick swaps also burned Brooklyn. That part was on the GM. “Billy’s literally like an addicted gambler when he’s close to doing those trades,” said an opposing executive. “He’ll do anything when it reaches a certain point.
King’s worst deal was for Wallace in 2012, a panic move meant to help convince Williams to re-sign in free agency that summer. The pick given in exchange to the Blazers turned into Dame Lillard, a point guard who is immensely better than Williams today.
But the deal with Boston was different. It was backed by logic — albeit flawed in retrospect — and lauded at the time as pushing the Nets into real contention. King had even gone around the room that evening asking about the proposal. There wasn’t much, if any, dissension. According to a report on Netsdaily.com, Milton Lee, the GM of the franchise’s D-League affiliate, represented the lone vocal opposition. “Looking back, my one regret — and I know Billy gets a lot of arrows for the swap rights for this year — was that I shouldn’t have done the swap, or that I should’ve put some type of protection on the swap there looking back on everything,” Marks said. “It wasn’t just Billy. This was a group decision here. This was the group in the room.”
The Nets have inquired, too, and that could be interesting because of the Nets’ ability to absorb salary. Brooklyn stands to have about $40 million in cap space next summer, and without much to offer big-time free agents, leveraging that space to accumulate picks with bad contracts would make sense for the Nets, who will see the No. 1 pick swapped to Boston this year, and have next year’s pick sent to the Celtics, too.
Brian Lewis: But a source told me as of yet, the #Hawks haven’t contacted the #Nets for permission to talk to Langdon.
From the Nets side, the interest in Unicaja’s players is just the latest indication of how intense Brooklyn’s scouting regimen has become. Miranda speculates who might interest the Nets that they’ve come all this way twice. Miranda’s first choice is Viny Okouo, a (barely) 20-year-old seven-footer from Brazzaville in the Democratic Republic of the Congo … and Serge Ibaka’s cousin. Miranda notes that Okouo has declared for the draft and although he was expected to withdraw, maybe he won’t. The Unicaja center has at 20 just begun his career as an elite player. The normal thing is that he withdraws his name from the Draft this season, as he still has two campaigns left before he arrives at his natural year of selection. But the Nets already know him firsthand and he is a player who, because of its physical characteristics, is very interesting for the NBA.
Marks was asked by Sarah Kustok what position he thought he needed to “fortify” in the off-season, the Nets GM identified the small forward, but noted as well “We need to look at everyone.” “I think we know the 3 position for us is certainly one that needs to addressed. I look at it too that we have some free agents of our own who we need to know what’s going to happen with them there first. “Again, where we are in our life cycle its not where we can say, ‘we’re only missing this.’ To be honest, we need to look at everybody. We’re looking at the best players available. That’s coming through the draft, that’s coming through free agency.”
Irina Pavlova, a top adviser to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and one of the highest-ranking women in professional sports, is leaving the organization next month, sources told The Vertical. Pavlova, whose official title is president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, has served as a U.S.-based liaison for the Nets’ Russian-based ownership group since 2010.
In her role, Pavlova was looped in on all Nets-related activities, from business to basketball operations. She dealt with the NBA on significant issues and was heavily involved in the selection of the team’s new practice facility in Brooklyn. Pavlova serves on the board of directors for the Nets and Brooklyn Arena LLC, the company that runs the Barclays Center.
Bobby Marks: Strong gesture by Nets management honoring the commitment to Cliff Alexander and Prince Ibeh. Nets had committee to both players for a 10-day contract this season but injuries derailed the signing. The Nets commitment to both is similar to what Golden State did with Jose Calderon and his agent Mark Bartelstein back in early March.
Nets Daily: Also front office and coaching staff have a combined 60 years overseas playing experience. That’s not by accident
Sean Marks made Langdon his first hire, which speaks volumes about his potential as an executive and his eye for talent. Former players bring a specialized set of skills and experiences to the executive suites, where the job isn’t only talent evaluation but talent management. Be it college divas, journeymen or international products, Langdon has shared locker rooms with them all. League insiders say Langdon needs a few seasons in Brooklyn during what promises to be a painstaking rebuild, but will eventually receive some serious looks from owners intrigued by a managerial prospect with a playing career and some Spurs shine.
But that’s all water under three bridges — Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg — and what Atkinson and Sean Marks, the new general manager who hired him, can only move on from, beginning with what we might call the pre-process. “Whether it works or not, I don’t know, but we’re on the same page,” Atkinson said of his boss. “We have the same vision on how we can get out of it. My big fear was whether the average fan was going to understand that. But, you know, there haven’t been many boos, and the fact that there has been some compassion and understanding makes me think that we don’t give the fans enough credit for what they know.”
Appearing on Boomer and Carton Friday, Woj said players and their agents are recognizing what’s going on with the Nets and compared it with the Knicks. “I talk to players around the league, agents, people. They like what’s in Brooklyn to send their guys to in the future. The coaching, the organization, everything around it. The Knicks still don’t have that. And it gets back to this: Whether Donnie Walsh is GM, who did a tremendous job, or whether it’s Phil Jackson, it will always be James Dolan’s culture there.”
Elisa Padilla, the Nets chief marketing officer and the woman who helped transform the New Jersey Nets to the Brooklyn Nets, writes in The Advocate Thursday that she is gay and proud of it. “I am standing up, raising my hand, and joining the conversation. I am using my voice not only to demand change but to advocate for LGBTQ respect and inclusion,” she writes in the national LGBTQ magazine. “I am taking action to show anyone who has struggled with their identity that they can achieve their dreams in any profession, in any industry, under any circumstance.”
Padilla, who has been instrumental in pushing a number of fan initiatives, including the Brooklyn Brigade, notes that while she is married to a woman she has been with for decades, she is only now coming out to the world. “Twenty-five years into my career and after seven years with the Nets, my share-no-details personal mantra has remained the same. To this day, most of my colleagues don’t know that I’m gay, let alone married to a woman who has been my partner in life for 28 years. Until now.”
In fact, she is the lead on the Nets first “Pride Night,” January 25, where the Nets will celebrate LGBTQ inclusion and diversity in general, welcoming back Jason Collins, the two-time Net who in 2013 became the first openly gay athlete in any of the four major pro sports. “The first team to sign Collins after he came out was the Brooklyn Nets. I was so proud coming to work that day,” she noted. “He is a true role model, and I am honored to stand with him.”
A 7-footer who can pass and defend, he could have neatly rounded out the lineup next to Lopez, and let them mix and match with four scorers on the floor. Forced to give Justin Hamilton and Luis Scola more than 800 minutes combined despite their struggles, the Nets would have benefited greatly from Motiejunas. Now, with almost $17.8 million in cap room, there is a sense both in the building and throughout the league they will be willing to make moves at the deadline. “Will we be active? I think we’ll be strategic,’’ Marks said. “We’re not just going to jump on something.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Mikhail Prokhorov reiterated he will remain majority owner of the Nets and said he is actively searching for a minority ownership partner to “strengthen” the team’s presence in New York. “I’m passionate about owning the Nets and our emerging sports and entertainment businesses, and will continue to look at growth opportunities,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “… I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken this year, including the opening of the world-class HSS Training Center and developing a new culture with GM Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson. I’m committed to the Nets and will remain the majority owner of the team.”
According to a Nets insider, the Russian oligarch would like to sell up to 49 percent of the Nets, but NOT the other assets held by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment: Barclays Center, Nassau Coliseum, and the Brooklyn Paramount Theater. There’s no indication that Prokhorov has set any deadline for a sale or who might be interested.
Scott Soshnick: BREAKING: @BrooklynNets hire Allen & Co.’s Steve Greenberg to find local minority investor #sportsbiz #NBA
Scola also likes what Sean Marks is doing in the Nets rebuild. “Even if we have a draft pick, i believe Sean and coach and everyone in the front office, they just want to build the right atmosphere for working and for winning,” he said. “Doing it the right way, I kind of like that about this team.”
Marks was hired away from the San Antonio Spurs. He wanted his own team, but he fully understands resuscitating the Nets, expected to be a lottery team, is an arduous task. “It’s fun, at the same time all-consuming,” said Marks, who played 230 NBA games over 12 years. “But to be able to see things very, very slowly coming together and getting the players to buy in and the collaboration between the performance team, coaching team, front office — that’s been good to see.”
Marks fully realizes that the Nets are likely a few years from competing. The team needs premium free agents. It needs its younger players to flourish. It needs Atkinson to implement a winning culture. “There’s a ton of people who would have loved this opportunity,” Marks said. “I’m fortunate enough to have it. I love the market that it’s in. I love the opportunity and the challenge. There’s no doubt it’s a huge challenge and I think everybody that has joined with me — we’re a partnership here. We want to see it turn around in Brooklyn. We’re going to push each other.”
So, King didn’t know I was going to be there, but he certainly recognized me and to his credit, didn’t seem to hold back. Since we weren’t told it was off-the-record, we, my seatmate and I, assumed it was on. We’ve written about this before but haven’t shared the notes. So in the interest of full disclosure on this issue, here they are: King says Dmitry Razumov is fully engaged, that they talk, text, email all the time and that at the trade deadline, there was constant communication between the two of them and among him, Razumov and Prokhorov. Razumov came to New York for more than a week.
He said Razumov and Prokhorov are much more knowledgeable about NBA players than they were when they took over five years ago. Razumov will text him about specific players. He texted about JaVale McGee and when Billy told him no interest, he responded that he figured as much. Billy added that Razumov will often play with the ESPN Trade Machine and call with suggestions. He said Razumov recently asked about getting a young player on the Rockets, that he appeared to be just what were looking for. Billy said he agreed with the assessment that the player fit well, but that Houston wouldn’t trade him.
We were also told, by multiple sources, that King refused to go along with a trade proposal in 2015-16 that would have brought Lance Stephenson to the Nets, along with others, and sent Joe Johnson to the Hornets. Razumov liked the idea. King, not a big fan of Stephenson, did not. There was no dispute, no argument, we were told. It was another case of ownership making a suggestion and management citing reasons why it wouldn’t work.
The Brooklyn Nets have named Gianluca Pascucci as director of global scouting and BJ Johnson as coordinator of player evaluation. “We are thrilled to add Gianluca and BJ to our front office,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks. “Collectively, they bring valuable experiences that cross many platforms and their extensive knowledge of both the NBA and the global game will be tremendous assets to our scouting department. Both will be excellent additions to our culture and we are excited about welcoming them to Brooklyn.”
Culture gets thrown around a lot in sports, but what does it really mean? What does it mean for the Nets? “Everyone in here together working towards the goal,” Lopez said. “No more being late, be on time in the training room getting your treatment, getting your weights in; be on the court at the same time. It’s a much more togetherness, much more camaraderie. We hold each other accountable and we have high expectations of each other.”
The 7-foot, 28-year-old center calls the training staff “an international work force” with “guys taking what they’ve learned all around the world, bringing it together in this eclectic fashion so we really have the best of the best. “It’s hard,” Lopez said. “We’re together and we’re doing it. Before, we’d have guys coming in, wouldn’t really get their treatment [or] their mobilization. And they weren’t necessarily on time. It’s the way it should be now.”
The Brooklyn Nets have announced Head Coach Kenny Atkinson’s coaching staff, naming Jacque Vaughn, Chris Fleming and Bret Brielmaier assistant coaches, Adam Harrington assistant coach and director of player development, Jordan Ott assistant coach and manager of advance scouting and Mike Batiste player development assistant. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not released.
After the season ended, Thaddeus Young and others said the Nets had dealt with a habitual tardiness issue and Marks acknowledged it. “There was a little bit of responsibility that was potentially lacking,” said Marks, who came from the Spurs. “I told the guys in San Antonio — or anywhere for that matter to be successful — if you obviously have that disrespect and disregard for your teammates that you’re not building camaraderie, not building trust. “It’s the players that monitor that themselves. It’s Tim [Duncan], Tony [Parker], Manu [Ginobili], Kawhi [Leonard]. If you’re going to show up 15, 20 minutes later — or even not 30 minutes early — you’re telling Tim Duncan, ‘Hey look, my time is more valuable than yours.’”
So far, it appears that Marks is following through on that promise. A NetsDaily survey shows that the team has added 17 new staff and dropped 11 from Billy King’s setup. Moreover, Marks has organized things, as one might expect. The biggest change is on the coaching side of the building. The Nets went through last season –at least up through Lionel Hollins firing and Paul Westphal’s departure– with six assistants, one short of what the team had under Jason Kidd. It now appears the Nets will have a staff similar in size to Kidd’s.
In his first interview since being dumped as Nets GM in January, Billy King tells two NBA beat writers he thinks he could have turned things around if he had been permitted to stay on, but says he does not “begrudge” ownership for wanting a “different voice” in shaping the team. Still, he admits to “bitter fieelings” King also seems to side with those who criticized the Nets for not interviewing any candidates of color for his old job, noting that the trend now is to hire executives from the “Spurs tree,” an apparent reference to the Nets decision to hire Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon.
Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News and Vincent Goodwill of the Comcast Sports Net in Chicago devoted most of the interview, conducted last week, to a discussion of how to increase African-Americans in NBA front offices, but at the end of the 40-minute discussion asked King about his departure from the Nets, billed at the time as a “reassignment.” Asked how he’s spending his time, King talked about how he’s looking forward to his next job. “I looked back at things that we done. You know you write up a plan,” said the 50-year-old King. “After I get back, here’s how I want to set up my staff and here’s how I want to do things differently. and you just network and stay in the mix.”
On the subject of African-Americans in NBA front offices, King echoed criticism of the Nets leveled by a number of writers and others –including Goodwill– that none of the eight finalists for King’s job were African American. (Seven were white, one Hispanic.) “Some of the younger assistant GMs don’t get the interviews,” King argued. “that’s what is more troubling, not the fact that they didn’t get hired but some of the guys like Scott Perry (Vice President/Assistant General Manager.of the Magic) have not got the interview and to me that’s whats more troubling.”
King also suggested that there may be a conspiracy between media and agents to label candidates, citing how Mark Jackson has been treated after being fired in Golden State. “I think what’s hard is when you have agendas, you have agendas in certain media types, or agents that represent coaches and GMs and they have agendas. they may plant stories, they put things out there and they keep perpetuating it,” King said.
Natalie Jay has been named as cap and contract specialist. Jay comes to Brooklyn after most recently serving as a judicial law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, Mo. Previously, she held sports law clinic externships with the Memphis Grizzlies and Fluminense FC of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A native of Oxnard, Calif., Jay received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Princeton and her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.
Ryan Gisriel has been named as director of basketball administration. Gisriel, who started with the Nets as an intern in 2013, has since served as special projects coordinator and as assistant to the general manager. The Baltimore native received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Notre Dame in 2013. Andrew Baker has been named strategic planning coordinator. Baker comes to Brooklyn after spending the past year as a quality assurance assistant in the basketball operations department of the San Antonio Spurs. A native of Vero Beach, Fla., Baker received his Bachelor of Science degree in sports management from NYU and his Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School, where he also received a certificate of specialization in sports law.
Chris Mannix: Nets announce a slew of front office additions, including Natalie Jay, a former federal court law clerk and the team’s new cap specialist.
Frank Zanin: I would like to thank the Brooklyn Nets for allowing me to be a part of their organization for the past six years. After speaking with Sean this morning I have decided to step I down from my position of Assistant GM. This will allow Sean to fill out his staff and give me a chance to pursue other opportunities.
But with basically every team in the league having enough money to offer a fat contract to at least one player, the Nets will have plenty of competition for basically everyone they try to sign – and almost all of that competition will present a better option for winning in the short-term than Brooklyn can. That’s why both the Nets — before hiring Marks — and Marks — since being hired — have talked about trying to find players in Europe and other undervalued markets to work around this.
Devin Kharpertian: The Nets have named Trajan Langdon as their assistant general manager.
Jeff Zillgitt: Nets hire Trajan Langdon as assistant general manager. Was Cavs’ director of player administration and before that a Spurs scout.
At the same time, said a league source familiar with the process, Buford was recommending Marks to the Nets. Buford is good friends with Sergey Kushchenko, a member of the Nets board and a member of the Nets selection committee.
In his first interview as Nets GM –with a New Zealand radio station– on Thursday afternoon Sean Marks said that Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford of the Spurs encouraged him to interview for the Brooklyn job.
Mike Mazzeo: Dmitry Razumov is proud of the Nets’ GM search process that led them to Sean Marks. Praises Marks’ personality and variety of experience. Also comes from a great culture in San Antonio. Was a unanimous decision. Dmitry Razumov says committee knew right away.
Tim Bontemps: Sean Marks: “I hope to use all I’ve learned and bring it to New Jersey …” … Marks apparently doesn’t know about the new facility yet.
Anthony Puccio: Sean Marks said “New Jersey” instead of Brooklyn.
Alex Raskin: #Nets GM Sean Marks on leaving the #Spurs last night: “they quickly got me out of the room.”
Mike Mazzeo: New Nets GM Sean Marks says he’s realistic about the challenges ahead but has a clear vision for the future.
Fred Katz: Nets new GM Sean Marks on not having a draft pick now: “That can change”
Anthony Puccio: Sean Marks on lack of draft picks: “There’s other way places and other ways you can build a team.” Mentioned free agency, D-League, Euro talent.
Mike Mazzeo: Dmitry Razumov says the process of selecting the next Nets’ coach will be driven by GM Sean Marks but it appears there will be input from ownership as well much like GM selection process.
Mike Mazzeo: Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks signed a four-year contract in excess of $9 million, a league source told ESPN.
“Anybody that’s coming from the Spurs organization is definitely a great hire [judging] from what they’ve done in the past 20, 25 years,” Nets power forward Thaddeus Young said. “They’ve had a great organization, they’ve won championship after championship, always have produced a great team, and they have great people within the organization, great basketball minds.”
Nets Daily: Any deal put together by (lame duck GM) Zanin would likely be run past Marks and/or Razumov and Prokhorov who are still in town.
Paul Coro: Sean “Kiwi” Marks didn’t play much in 2 Suns seasons (2006-08) but he was one of the most liked & respected players. twitter.com/wojverticalnba…
Nets Daily: One coach has ties to both Prokhorov and Marks: Ettore Messina who Marks works with in SA and who was Prokhorov’s coach at CSKA Moscow.
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March 20, 2018 | 9:46 pm EDT Update
Rod Beard: #Pistons Reggie Jackson (pregame) on his return tonight (about 16 minutes): “I’m not going to try to force anything and just go out here and play basketball with the time that I’m allotted to play.”
Nick DePaula: Chris Paul is debuting his 11th Jordan signature shoe tonight, the CP3.11. Features a strap and @Chris Paul’s longtime insistence on speed, grip and fit