Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman of the New York Post report Thursday that high valuations —and a failure to sell a minority stake in the Nets— could tempt Mikhail Prokhorov to sell the team.
However, a league source told NetsDaily that the Nets are still only offering a minority stake in the team.
The Russian oligarch has owned the Nets since May 2010. He has said he wants to sell up to 49 percent of the team to local investors, but the Post thinks the Nets could be attractive to Chinese investors. One reason: Jeremy Lin’s presence on the team.
Prokhorov has been trying to sell up to 49 percent of the team for the past several months, working with Allen & Co., the big New York investment banker. However, issues with the team’s financial structure has hurt the effort.
Just this week, Forbes reported that the NBA’s financial committee has cleared a hurdle the league required before a minority —or majority— stake can be transferred. The committee approved a Prokhorov request to split the team from the holding company that also owns Barclays Center.
Lewis and Kosman write Prokhorov has recently “warmed” to the idea of selling out. One big temptation, they argue, is what will happen if there’s a bidding war for the Houston Rockets, whose owner announced earlier this month that he’s selling out. The losers in such a war could turn to other teams .
The Nets believe some of the suitors who look at the Rockets will also take an interest in them, sources said.
“As word gets out about the new Nets process, some of the Rockets interest may spill over,” a source said.
One source of investment cash, from wealthy Chinese investors, is of particular interest to both the Rockets and the Nets.The Nets believe some of the suitors who look at the Rockets will also take an interest in them, sources said.
The Rockets who drafted and signed the NBA’s first Chinese player, Yao Ming, have a certain appeal in China, the Post reported, adding that the presence of Lin in Brooklyn could also be attractive to Chinese investors. Lin is currently in Shanghai as part of his annual Taiwan-China tour.
The Nets popularity in China is fast-growing — owing to their point guard Jeremy Lin, sources said.
“A lot of Chinese money will look directly at Houston,” a sports industry source not directly involved in the Nets or Rockets sales said.“As word gets out about the new Nets process, some of the Rockets interest may spill over,” a source said.
Mike Zavodsky, the Nets Executive vice president of Global Partnerships, is in China this week with 20 meetings lined up, Lewis and Kosman note.
“Our brand in China is growing, in merchandise sales and commercially,” Brett Yormark, CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center parent company, told The Post.
At this point, however, the possibility a Prokhorov change of heart remains speculative. One source familiar with ownership’s intentions said Prokhorov —and his No. 2, Nets chairman Dmitry Razumov, the Nets chairman— remain fully engaged in the Nets and Sean Marks’ rebuild.
A month ago, Prokhorov attended the NBA Draft for the first time, sitting with Marks in the team "war room" at HSS Training Center.
And last week, he entertained Stephen Colbert at his home and gym in Moscow, the two of them all dressed up in Nets gear.
- Prokhorov may be open to idea of selling controlling stake in the Nets - Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman