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Tsai deal close but not done, say Nets


Multiple sources tell NetsDaily that the final deal between Mikhail Prokhorov and Joe Tsai is likely to be closed and announced in next week or so.

Earlier Tuesday, Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported that the deal was done, but later amended his story to note that a spokesperson for the Nets said the deal “has not closed.”

As the reported by ESPN in late October, Tsai will pay $1.13 billion for 49 percent of the Nets with an option to take control in 2022. Prokhorov will retain 100 percent ownership of Barclays Center and the other venues his Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment controls, including Nassau Coliseum.

Tsai, 53, is a dual citizen of Taiwan and Canada. His wealth derives mainly from his ownership stake in China-based Alibaba Group, the giant e-commerce company. He is a founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba. A graduate of New Jersey’s Lawrenceville School, Yale and Yale Law School, Tsai worked on Wall Street before founding Alibaba with its now chairman Jack Ma in 1999. The company is based on Huangzhou, China, not far from Shanghai, but operates worldwide. He is also owner of the San Diego Seals, a box lacrosse franchise with the National Lacrosse League.

Prokhorov and Tsai have a combined net worth of around $23 billion, each with about $11.5 billion. Prokhorov is listed as the world’s 128th richest man, Tsai 130th in Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

The closing has been rumored for weeks. Although there was an agreement in principle last October, details on control have taken a while to work out. In January, Prokhorov told Brian Lewis the two sides “are finishing the deal” adding, “I think Joe is a great partner and will help the game and help the NBA.”

Just last week, in a discussion of the Nets future with NetsDaily, GM Sean Marks noted, “We’re going to have to be patient, Mikhail’s going to have to be patient, Joe’s going to have to be patient, but by the end of the day, we all realize, ‘let’s build the foundation.’”

Nets officials have noted repeatedly since Octoberbthat Tsai, like Prokhorov, has bought into Marks’ long-term rebuild. In November, during a short back-and-forth between him and Bill Walton in Huangzhou, Tsai told the Hall of Famer that he expects his ownership to be “an interesting journey” and “a long-term project.” He also described Jeremy Lin, a Taiwanese-American, as his “favorite player.”

ESPN’s Arash Markazi captured video of the conversation and posted it on Twittter.

Tsai has been seen at Barclays Center on two occasions this season, the first time when the Nets played the Warriors in November, then again last month vs. the Knicks. The Nets lost both contests.