In interviews with TASS, the Russian news agency, and SovSport, the country's biggest sports newspaper, Mikhail Prokhorov reiterated he has no plans to sell the team, but does intend to eventually sell part of it as a way to "realize some gains" from the Nets' astronomical rise in value.
The interviews came two days after Prokhorov traveled to Duke University where he met with the team and instructed them in Tescao, a Tibetan martial art.
The Russian oligarch confirmed he is talks to "buy out" Bruce Ratner in both the team and Barclays Center. He didn't put a number on the valuation of either property or identify a potential buyer of the minority stake. Forbes has put the valuation of the Nets alone at $1.5 billion.
Here's what he told TASS...
"I’m not planning to sell the Brooklyn Nets. The situation is that we’re in discussion with our partners at Forest City, who own 20% of the club and 55% of the arena, to buy them out. This has two components. One is that we’re restructuring their debt by increasing our share and, second, we want to create conditions by which we can sell a minority stake at some point in the future to realize some gains from the team’s capitalization. These two aspects are important. Plus, the NBA prefers that the ownership structure of the arena and the team be the same, so we’re following that logic."
On the last issue, the NBA has reportedly told ownership that the team's lease is so lopsidedly in favor of the arena that it would not approve a sale out of fairness to whoever bought the team. Under current ownership, it's not an issue since the same people own both, if in different configurations.
Prokhorov told SovSport that once he does sell a minority portion of the team --reports are it could be as high as 49 percent -- he will reinvest the money at home. "Let me just say that the value of the club has grown significantly. The proceeds from the sale of shares of the funds will be invested in Russia," he said.
The NBA's only European owner also said that in times of tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the Nets can serve as a bridge between the countries' two peoples.
"The Brooklyn Nets have become the heart of Brooklyn, a certain influence at the center of New York. It is important, first of all, because the world has become a global and Russians abroad often lack the tools of influence. In the Brooklyn Nets arena there are 'Russian Nights, where the best achievements of Russian culture are celebrated. . Politics is transitory, but the relationships between people are eternal."
Prokhorov told reporters from the Post, Newsday and NetsDaily on Thursday that he anticipates being at a "minimum" of 25 percent of the Nets regular season games. That would be 20 games