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Prokhorov says he has "no interest in selling" Brooklyn Nets despite Woj report

Bruce Bennett

With the rising value of the Nets, brought on in part by the astronomical sale price of the Los Angeles Clippers, Mikhail Prokhorov is trying to gauge the price tag for his team, reports Adrian Wojnarowski.  But Prokhorov in a statement to NetsDaily Saturday evening stated, "We have no interest in selling the team."

The response came at 2 a.m. Moscow time and less than an hour after the Woj report,. Specifically, Woj wrote...

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has been open to overtures from potential buyers for the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

"Just listening so far," a league official with direct knowledge told Yahoo Sports. "They haven't indicated a desire or willingness to sell. …Nothing was initiated by [Prokhorov]."

While Prokhorov and his Russian colleagues have been intrigued by the Clippers valuation of $2 billion, there's been no suggestion, no moves, like the hiring an investment banker, that would indicate that he wants to sell, say league sources.

Indeed, people inside ONEXIM, his Moscow-based company, have believed for a year that the Prokhorov investment in the Nets --80 percent-- and the Barclays Center --45 percent-- is worth more than $1 billion. Prokhorov paid $223 million in cash, assumed $160 million in team debt and agreed to eat up to $60 million in operating losses in New Jersey in May 2010. Internally, Nets officials have speculated that after the run-up in team valuations, including a $550 million price tag for the lowly Bucks, the team alone could now be worth $2.5 billion, the arena another $1 billion.

Bruce Ratner, who owns the remaining 20 percent of the team, has been trying to sell his stake. One of his selling points is a clause in the partnership agreement that either side, Prokhorov's or Ratner's, has the right of first refusal on each other's interest. That would make Ratner's stake quite valuable in that if Prokhorov did decide to sell, whoever owned Ratner's stake could match any offers.

Despite the operating losses the team has incurred, perhaps as much as $50 million this year, and Prokhorov's disappointment in the team's record, the Nets are his most successful investment of late.  Moreover, the team has made several investments of late, including in a new $45 million practice facility about to be unveiled in Brooklyn.

And at the end of the season, Prokhorov issued a statement that ended, "Next season, we pick up right where we left off!"