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Proposed deal could help Nets bottom line

Twitter/Brian Erni

Every year, the Nets, along with the other three surviving ABA teams, receive about $5 million less in TV revenues than their NBA counterparts, the result of a nearly 40-year-old deal that the league is once again trying to get out of.

When the ABA and NBA merged, the four teams that entered the NBA, including the Nets, agreed to give 1/7th of their national TV revenue to Ozzie and Daniel Silna, owners of one of the teams left behind, the Spirits of St. Louis. In return, the Spirits agreed to go out of business. No one thought much of it, but it became perhaps the best deal in the history of sports.

As those TV rights have grown, the Nets have lost money and a competitive advantage. In recent years, the Nets received around $26 million annually after paying off the Spirits' owners, the two Silna brothers and their lawyers. The Knicks, for example, received $31 million. After the Nets, Nuggets, Spurs and Pacers ponied up, the Silnas et al receive $19 million...for nothing. There is no end to the agreement.

Now, Chris Broussard reports the NBA is trying to work out a settlement, perhaps a one-time payment to the Silnas. It won't be cheap. Recently, a judge ruled that the brothers also have rights to Internet revenue. It's uncertain if the deal will go through or how the NBA will pay and whether the four ABA teams will have to share in the payout. The deal has already cost them $300 million, or $75 million per team.