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Is Prokhorov going for slow-motion sale?

Charlotte Bobcats v Brooklyn Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov has been trying to sell a minority share in the Nets (and Barclays Center) for more than a year with no luck One reason, without a promise of gaining control at some point, an investor would have no real power, but would have to pay a share of the team’s losses.

The way out is offering an investor a minority share now with the promise of gaining control at some time certain in the future. The New York Post’s Josh Kosman, who’s been speculating about a sale since 2015, says that’s exactly what the Nets Russian owner is planning.

Prokhorov is hoping to sell the Nets in a two-part process, the sources said. First, the 52-year-old will look to sell a minority piece of the team — but give the buyer the right to buy the entire team in a short period of time — say three years, the sources said.

“There will be a new owner in the next few years,” one of the sources said.

In Moscow, a spokesperson for Prokhorov seemed to throw cold water on the possibility... at least for the short term.

"We have received multiple offers with varying formats for buying a part or all of the Nets. We are not considering any proposals that preclude our ongoing participation in the Nets for years to come.

"Mikhail continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of the team and remains committed to the Nets. "

Prokhorov has both publicly and privately supported Sean Marks rebuilding plan. The two speak regularly, often on a daily basis, say insiders.

Of course, with this week's sale of the Rockets to a casino magnate for $2.2 billion, rumors of a Nets sale are to be expected. Still, those close to the Nets have continued to say Prokhorov doesn't want out.

In fact, he has been investing more and more in the sports and entertainment business in New York while disposing of his Moscow assets, often at a loss. In addition to the Nets, Barclays Center and the Long Island Nets of the G-League, Prokhorov’s parent company, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, owns and/or operates Nassau Coliseum, LIU-Paramount Theater and Webster Hall. BS&E also controls the business operations of the Islanders.

Bloomberg News reported recently that he now has more of his money invested in the U.S. than in Russia. And with a Forbes-estimated $5.2 billion in cash, he has no financial need to sell.

Much of Kosman’s story is speculative and he does speculate, as he has in the past, about possible buyers.

There are interested buyers, including Wall Street types, who have been doing due diligence on the team, sources said.

Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai has expressed an interest in the team, a source told The Post, though reps for his family office, Blue Pool Capital, deny it.

In the past, Kosman has identified a variety of players who might be interested in the Nets, including hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen; producer David Geffen; Lorraine Jobs, Steve Jobs widow; Fosun, the Chinese insurance giant; and the Qatari investment trust, among others.

Another question is whether Prokhorov would put up his 100 percent interest in Barclays Center if and when he decides to sell all or part of the team. The NBA would prefer it, according to league sources.

Allen & Co., the big New York investment firm, has been charged with selling the minority stake and would presumably have the same role if Prokhorov decided to sell the whole team.