Behold The Champions League, a non-NBA affiliated venture where the league’s chairman and CEO, Carl George, is hoping to provide family-friendly and affordable entertainment during the NBA’s downtime. The vision, expected to be announced formally today, looks like this. Sixteen teams to begin competing in the summer of 2016, with a strong preference for players who have competed in the NBA during the last three years. According to George, the New York team is already fully formed and includes former NBA players Al Harrington, Rasheed Wallace and Maurice Ager. Teams in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Cleveland are up next, with the goal to employ approximately 250 players in all (170 on teams, others as player-coaches or in other roles). Each team would have two former NBA All-stars on the roster and a Hall of Famer in the front office. George said that 60 players have committed to this point, with many more “in the pipeline” while the subsequent teams are rolled out.
Approximately 30 games to be played in July and August, with 10 charity/marketing events in non-NBA markets during the non-season months also included as part of a player’s compensation package. On average, George said, players would make approximately $200,000 per year (for 80 or 90 days of work) in their pay structure if they take part in both the season and the charity events. The strategy to attract the best-of-the-rest players is simple: provide a far better payday than the NBA’s Development League (top tier approximately $25,000) while offering a more-comfortable alternative to the overseas route that can certainly lead to more money but that, inevitably, requires a life-changing relocation.
“As surprising as it might sound, it comes as a surprise to most of (the players) when their career does come to an end,” George told USA TODAY Sports. “What we become, then, is a transition from that point forward. And we’re thrilled to be at that place. We’re the next step in the evolution."
“We are committed to being well capitalized, and all that precedes the play,” said George, who describes his background as “building software companies” and whose bio cites 25 years of “business development history” that includes involvement with four businesses that were purchased by Fortune 100 companies. “You see a lot of people launch (these kinds of leagues), and then run out of (financial) runway. We said, ‘Let’s build the runway, and let’s make sure it’s there — take a day and stop and look at it and smile about it — and then let’s start landing planes on it.’ That’s the sequence.”
June 26, 2022 | 8:47 am EDT Update
After six seasons in the NBA, Tomas Satoransky will return to Europe and back to FC Barcelona inking a four-year contract with the Catalonia giant, according to Eurohoops sources. Satoransky, 30, will officially become an NBA free agent at the end of the month but switching sides of the Atlantic was considered probable. He was nearing a deal with Barca, as reported by Eurohoops last week, and was previously linked to back-to-back Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Anadolu Efes as well.
“I avoid being carried away by money, it has always been about me being happy, about me fulfilling a dream. When I left Real Madrid and went to the USA, it was my dream but I also had to consider other factors, my family, what I was giving up,” he pointed out reminiscing the jump from European powerhouse Real Madrid to the Nuggets a couple of years ago, “The same applies about staying in the NBA.” “No, it wouldn’t be damaging, I don’t close any doors,” he replied to a question about maybe returning to Spain labeling Madrid as his second home, “Personally, it would be naive to be obsessed with staying in the NBA. Maybe I don’t get any offers. Real Madrid has always been like a second home for me, but I must wait. That is my only choice right now.”
June 26, 2022 | 6:52 am EDT Update
Not much of Murdock’s take was optimistic if you’re a Nets fan. Indeed, he referred to the franchise’s current situation as “destruction” in the podcast and suggested perhaps more firmly than other pundits that Durant could indeed leave. “The vision is on the verge of crumbling,” he wrote. “It didn’t have to be this way,” he said, summing up. “This team … and it’s ironic. Kevin came to reconcile relationships, build relationships with his BFF’s and it’s not working out. It’s doing the exact opposite. And you juxtapose that with Golden State winning…” “Now, you have reports that Kyrie is looking elsewhere. I made some calls. Kevin Durant has not talked to the team in weeks. I don’t think Kevin is confident in the front office right now. I don’t know if he’s at the stage of leaving but there’s a big uneasiness from not only from the Kyrie side, but the KD side as well.”
And Murdock reiterated reports that Durant, who had in the past recruited free agents, is not doing that now. “At least right now, he’s one of those guys who doesn’t want to recruit, isn’t in the position to recruit or doesn’t feel like he is a position to recruit whether you like that or not.
At the center of it, Murdock pointed out multiple times is the Nets relationship with Irving. “His biggest beef is that he feels that the front office didn’t grow to understand Kyrie, whatever that means. I would push back on that when a guy leaves for two weeks at a time … Kyrie earns the lion’s share of the blame. But I think KD believes that ‘hey, you guys didn’t understand this guy. You didn’t try to figure out where he was coming from.’”
Still, Durant believes the Nets didn’t support Irving particularly when they decided not to play him at all in October, after he refused to get vaccinated like all but a handful of NBA players, then brought him back in October. “That’s just how he feels. ‘Hey man, I brought this guy in, him and Kyrie, and the front office didn’t do enough to support him at a time when we needed to support him.”
Moreover, Murdock pointed to the Nets decision to dump Adam Harrington, their long-time assistant coach and director of development, as a big negative for KD. Durant and Harrington go back to KD’s time in Oklahoma City when Harrington was his shooting coach. “And here’s another thing, KOC, the Nets got rid of Adam Harrington. who’s very close to Kevin. He’s one of Kevin’s guys. And that had a big ripple effect on how Kevin feels about this right now. He’s still in this figure-it-out mode but there is some fire to that smoke that he’s kind of reevaluating where he stands with this.”