Nets, Guggenheim In Talks To Merge Ownership

8:15pm: Robert Windrem of Nets Daily tweets that “a lot” remains to be done on the proposed deal, but reports that both sides want to get it done.

SATURDAY, 10:35am: A source close to Mikhail Prokhorov says the Nets majority owner has no intentions to surrender control of the team, Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News writes. “He’s not a seller,” the source told Abramson. “He wants the Nets and he loves the Nets and he wants to be controlling owner. This is something that he really enjoys.”

FRIDAY, 8:02am: Newsday’s Rod Boone largely seconds the initial reports, having heard that the Nets and Guggenheim are not talking about a “stake sale” but rather a partnership in which Prokhorov would remain in control (Twitter links).

THURSDAY, 10:53pm: Dodgers Chairman and Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter told Ohm Youngmisuk and Darren Rovell of, “I am the controlling owner of the Dodgers and I have no intention of selling the Dodgers or moving them into a new ownership group.” Walter also noted that he had yet to see the Nets’ financials, but added, “they are a terrific franchise and I would be happy to look at their information and any proposal anyone wanted to make to me — as I would with any proposal.” I would speculate that if the franchise’s financials have yet to be combed over, then a sale isn’t likely to be imminent anytime in the near future.

The ESPN article also had a different financial value attached to the franchise, with sources telling them the Nets were estimated to be worth $1.2 billion while the previous reports had the team valued at $1.7 billion. The estimated value of the Barclays Center was consistent with the earlier $1.1 billion figure that was mentioned.

4:40pm: The potential deal could evolve into a straight sale of the team and no partnership, Chris Mannix of reports (Twitter links). According to Mannix’s sources, Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov is actively looking to “cash out” and sell his interests in the franchise.

1:32pm: A Nets-Guggenheim partnership would forge a sports empire likely worth $8 billion, a source tells Windrem, who notes that the figure would encompass the Nets and Dodgers franchises, Barclays Center and Dodger Stadium (Twitter links).

12:46pm: Prokhorov didn’t initiate the conversation, and the Nets haven’t shown a willingness or desire to sell, a source cautions to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Still, high-ranking NBA executives believe Prokhorov will sell his stake sooner rather than later, Wojnarowski adds via Twitter.

12:39pm: Nets owners and representatives from Guggenheim Sports and Entertainment Assets are in talks about a deal that would give the Guggenheim group a stake in the team while allowing Mikhail Prokhorov to remain as controlling owner, reports Robert Windrem of Nets Daily. Grantland’s Zach Lowe hears similar chatter (Twitter link). The sides are working off valuations that have the entirety of the Nets worth $1.7 billion and the Barclays Center worth $1.1 billion, though it’s unclear just how much of a share of both Guggenheim would absorb.

Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner has been looking to sell the 20% stake in the team he holds through Forest City Enterprises, and Prokhorov reportedly has been listening to offers for his 80% interest, though Prokhorov was apparently just trying to gauge what the team was worth. Lowe wouldn’t be surprised if Prokhorov decides to sell soon (Twitter link), but a deal with Guggenheim would entail keeping Prokhorov in charge for the foreseeable future, Windrem hears.

Prokhorov and Ratner had been seeking a $1 billion valuation for the club, so it appears Guggenheim has come in well above that mark. The desire to up the value of the club was apparently behind Prokhorov’s austerity pledge in which he targeted getting the team out of the luxury tax by 2015/16. The Nets already began reeling in spending this summer, allowing Paul Pierce to sign with the Wizards rather than using their Bird Rights on him to top Washington’s offer.

Guggenheim president Todd Boehly met in Moscow last week with Prokhorov, Ratner and Nets CEO Brett Yormark, a source tells Windrem. Guggenheim, along with partner Magic Johnson, also showed interest earlier this year in purchasing the Clippers in the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

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