Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has “warmed recently to the possibility” of selling controlling interest in the team, according to Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
Prokhorov’s original plan was to sell a minority stake in the franchise — up to 49% — while remaining the majority owner. However, the tepid response to that offer, combined with the potential sale price of the Houston Rockets that may go as high as $2 billion, has Prokhorov rethinking his decision.
Sources tell the authors that Nets officials believe some of the prospective buyers of the Rockets may be interested in Brooklyn if a majority share becomes available.
The two teams are among the most popular NBA franchises in China, given Houston’s connection to Yao Ming and the Nets having Jeremy Lin in their backcourt. Mike Zavodsky, the Nets’ executive VP of global partnerships, is touring China this week and has 20 meetings arranged with potential buyers.
“Our brand in China is growing, in merchandise sales and commercially,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center.
The team lost roughly $150MM three years ago, but its finances have improved dramatically since then, with much of the windfall coming through a deal with the YES Network that pays the Nets $50MM a year. Reducing salary has also played a role as the team may turn a profit for the first time since coming to Brooklyn in 2012.
The NBA Finance Committee recently approved Prokhorov’s plan to split corporate ownership of the team and Barclays Center.