Mikhail Prokhorov

NBA’s Board Of Governors Unanimously Approves Nets Sale To Joe Tsai

The NBA’s Board of Governors has unanimously approved the sale of the Nets – and the Barclays Center – to Joe Tsai, the league announced today in a press release.

Tsai, who had been a minority stakeholder in the franchise, finalized a deal last month to purchase the remaining shares from Mikhail Prokhorov, but that deal required approval from the Board of Governors before it could become fully official.

“We are thrilled that Joe Tsai is becoming the principal owner and governor of the Brooklyn Nets,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “In addition to being a passionate basketball fan, Joe is one of China’s preeminent internet, media and e-commerce pioneers and his expertise will be invaluable in the league’s efforts to grow the game in China and other global markets.”

In addition to formally finalizing his purchase of the Nets and their arena, Tsai has also officially installed veteran executive David Levy as the CEO of the Nets and the Barclays Center, per a team press release. Levy, the former president of Turner, will also serve as the president of J Tsai Sports, the sports investment and holding vehicle controlled by the new Nets owner.

“David brings a unique combination of sports and media know-how, strategic thinking and operating skills to our sports and entertainment business. He is an entrepreneur at heart with the experience of managing and scaling organizations, and I really look forward to working with him,” Tsai said in a statement.

For more details on the sale of the Nets to Tsai and the hiring of Levy, be sure to check out our previous stories on those moves.

Atlantic Notes: Miller, Prokhorov, Celtics, Scott

The Knicks have hired Mike Miller as an assistant on David Fizdale’s staff after he served as their G League coach since the 2015/16 season, according to a team press release. Miller, not to be confused with the longtime NBA player, compiled a 108-92 record with the Westchester Knicks. Derrick Alston, who served as an assistant to Miller, has been promoted to head coach of the G league team, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Mikhail Prokhorov, who recently sold his interest in the Nets, inquired about other NBA franchises — including the Knicks — before he was approved as the majority owner of the Brooklyn franchise. His top basketball adviser, Sergei Kushchenko, revealed that to TASS in a story relayed by NetsDaily.com. ”We were looking over various options at that time,” Kushchenko said. “Among them were the New York Knicks, who asked for a bizarre sum, the Phoenix Suns and the New Jersey Nets. We decided to focus on the New Jersey Nets since it was a completely different market then in addition to the prospect of the new arena’s construction along with a full-fledged business framework.” Prokhorov was also scared away by the Knicks’ debt load, according to NetsDaily.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens will have a dilemma if he wants to get all of his best players on the court during crunch time, Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. The team’s top five include Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, which would leave them without a true power forward or center in those situations.
  • Sixers forward Mike Scott said some advice from Clippers coach Doc Rivers helped him after he was dealt to Philadelphia last season, Kevin Murphy of The Athletic writes. Scott emerged as a key reserve after he was included in the Tobias Harris blockbuster and earned a two-year, $9.8MM contract in free agency. “I feel I didn’t play well in L.A., and I think for the most part it was on me,” Scott said. “I was still trying to figure it out. When I got here, I said, ‘[The heck with it], I am going to ball-out and try to do what Doc says.’ Do the little things and see what happens.”

Nets Notes: Irving, Prokhorov, Tsai, Levy

Kyrie Irving is already making his presence felt as the leader of the Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Irving has helped lead informal team workouts that includes the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, Theo Pinson, David Nwaba and free agent Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles over the past few weeks, with training camp set to start in less than two months.

“It was basically player-driven,” Pinson said of the workouts, as relayed by Lewis. “Kyrie was out there, and we wanted to get with him, so we just all went out there and just worked out together.”

Brooklyn revamped its roster this offseason, bringing in several new players and moving on from star guard D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Warriors for Kevin Durant. The team’s sudden roster overhaul makes it imperative that players get acclimated to each other before camp begins, with Irving helping lead the way for the franchise this month.

“It’s good. It gives us a little head start going into camp. Just getting not just on the court and [basketball-wise], but off the court also: playing ‘[NBA] 2K’, going to dinner and stuff like that. It’s been fun,” Pinson said.

There’s more out of Brooklyn today:

  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated examines the complicated legacy left behind by Mikhail Prokhorov, who’s set to officially offload the rest of his ownership in the team to Joe Tsai at the end of August. Prokhorov acquired the Nets for $223 million in 2009, selling the team for $2.35 billion this summer.
  • Like Prokhorov, Tsai is confident his purchase in the Nets will prove to be a profitable decision down the road, Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis write for the New York Post. Tsai is banking on the NBA’s international growth — particularly in China — along with the superstar additions of Irving and Durant to help lead the way.
  • Former Turner Sports executive David Levy is a serious candidate to replace Brett Yormark as CEO of the franchise, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Yormark recently announced his departure after spending 14 years with the team, leaving alongside Prokhorov.

Joseph Tsai Finalizes Deal To Assume Full Ownership Of Nets, Barclays Center

Nets minority shareholder Joseph Tsai has formally entered into an agreement with majority shareholder Mikhail Prokhorov to purchase full ownership of the franchise, the Nets confirmed today in a press release. As part of the deal, Prokhorov will also sell full ownership of the Barclays Center to Tsai.

The NBA’s Board of Governors still must officially approve the transaction, but that’s considered a mere formality. Tsai has long been expected to assume full ownership of the Nets since he bought a 49% stake in the team in April 2018. According to the press release, the arena and team sales are expected to close by the end of September.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago,” Tsai said in a statement. “He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank. I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”

According to reports from NetsDaily (Twitter link) and Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg, the total valuation for the Nets and the Barclays Center is $3.5 billion. The team – without the arena – was initially valued as $2.35 billion when Tsai bought his 49% stake last year.

Prokhorov will make out particularly well in the deal. When he assumed full ownership of the Nets and their arena in 2015, the team was valued at $875MM and the arena was valued at $825MM, for a total of $1.7 billion. The new total valuation of $3.5 billion is more than double that amount.

As we relayed on Thursday night, Nets CEO Brett Yormark is stepping down as team ownership changes hands. In their press release, the Nets confirmed that Yormark will oversee the transition to new ownership before “departing for a new role.”

Tsai, the co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, who is reportedly worth an estimated $9.9 billion, is expected to help the NBA grow its presence in China. He appears to have invested in the Nets at the right time — when he initially bought his 49% share last April, the team was coming off a 28-54 performance. The club boosted that mark to 42-40 last season, then made a huge splash in free agency by signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Nets CEO Brett Yormark Stepping Down

Brett Yormark, the lead executive for both the Nets and Barclays Center, is stepping down as the team’s top executive ahead of an impending ownership change that will see Taiwanese businessman Joseph Tsai become the franchise’s owner, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.

According to Soshnick, Yormark will announce that he’s resigning as CEO of BSE Global, the Nets’ parent company, tomorrow morning.
Yormark was an important figure in the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012 and the development of Barclays Center. For the past seven years, he has presided over all facets of the team and Barclays Center, including operations, events, sales and marketing.
Soshnick also notes that Yormark departing alongside current majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov makes sense because of how much Prokhorov entrusted operations to Yormark. It’s unclear whether Tsai, who will likely want his own team put into place, would have given Yormark the control he desired.

Joseph Tsai To Buy Rest Of Nets From Mikhail Prokhorov

Nets minority shareholder Joseph Tsai, who currently owns 49% of the franchise, is set to assume control of the remaining 51% earlier than expected, according to Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

As Kosman and Lewis report, Tsai is close to signing a deal to complete the purchase that will give him full control of the Nets. The move is expected to be announced next week, according to The Post.

When Tsai first bought a 49% stake in the Nets in April 2018, Mikhail Prokhorov retained control of the remaining 51% with an understanding that Tsai would have the option to buy him out within three years. It appears that buyout will happen just 16 months later.

At the time of Tsai’s initial purchase, the Nets were given a valuation of $2.35 billion, with Tsai paying $1 billion for his 49% stake. As Kosman and Lewis confirm, the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba will pay $1.35 billion for the other 51%. The total cost of $2.35 billion will mark the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise, according to The Post.

Tsai, who is worth an estimated $9.9 billion, is also in talks to purchase the Barclays Center, as Kosman and Lewis note. The native of Taiwan is a member of NBA China and is expected to help the league grow its presence in China.

Tsai appears to have bought into the Nets at the right time — when he completed his initial purchase, the team was coming off a 28-54 performance. The club boosted that mark to 42-40 last season, then made a huge splash in free agency by signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Nets Notes: Holden, Chandler, Harris

The Nets are expected to hire Sixers international scout J.R. Holden to serve as the team’s new director of player personnel, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Holden, who played overseas from 1998-2011, winning a pair of EuroLeague championships during that time, has also scouted for the Pistons since retiring as a player.

Holden will inject some more new talent into a front office that lost multiple key executives this offseason. Gianluca Pascucci joined the Timberwolves, while Trajan Langdon headed to New Orleans. The Nets have also hired Andy Birdsong and Jeff Peterson as assistant GMs to help replenish the group around Sean Marks.

Michael Scotto of The Athletic has updates on a couple more changes by the Nets, reporting (via Twitter) that the club will name Ryan Forehan-Kelly as its player development coordinator, with Shaun Fein set to assume head coaching duties for the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Tom Noie of The South Bend Tribune profiled new Nets forward Wilson Chandler, who recognizes that he’s not being brought in to have the same sort of impact as fellow free agent signees like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. “I’m one of the soldiers who goes out there for the generals and the captains. I’m on the support team and rightfully so,” Chandler said. “Whenever they need my help, they know they have a warrior besides themselves.”
  • As Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily relays, Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris recently appeared on Barstool’s Pardon My Take podcast to discuss how he ended up in Brooklyn, the Nets’ outlook, and the club’s free agency success. While Harris is looking forward to playing with his new star teammates, he declined to take any credit for their decisions to sign with the team. “I didn’t take any part in the recruitment,” Harris said. “I let the other guys kind of the bulk of that stuff.”
  • Sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is looking to sell off NYCB Live, the home of the Nassau Coliseum. Prokhorov is expected to cede control of the Nets to minority shareholder Joseph Tsai within the next year or two and may also look to sell ownership of Barclays Center at some point.

Joe Tsai In Talks To Buy Barclays Center, Become Nets’ Majority Owner

Nets minority stakeholder Joseph Tsai is in talks to buy the Barclays Center in Brooklyn – as well as the new Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale – from controlling owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Josh Kosman and Brett Cyrgalis of The New York Post report.

According to Kosman and Cyrgalis, those negotiations are expected to clear a path for Tsai to take over as the Nets’ majority owner, since the NBA likes its team owners to control the arena where the club plays.

Tsai officially purchased a 49% stake in the Nets from Prokhorov about a year ago for $1 billion, and that deal included language that will allow Tsai to buy the rest of the team in 2021 for $1.35 billion. However, as Kosman and Cyrgalis confirm, there’s nothing stopping Prokhorov from selling his share of the club to Tsai ahead of schedule.

According to the Post’s report, the NBA would fully embrace a sale to Tsai, since the league recognizes he’ll be able to help grow the sport and the NBA’s brand in China — he’s already a member of NBA China despite not yet owning the Nets. One source tells Kosman and Cyrgalis that the league “would be ecstatic” if Tsai assumes control of the franchise.

While it’s not clear what sort of timeline we should expect for Tsai to take over the Barclays Center and the Nets, the negotiations shouldn’t have to be contentious. Brian Lewis of The New York Post wrote last month that Prokhorov and Tsai have maintained a good relationship, with Brooklyn GM Sean Marks praising the duo’s willingness to “collaborate.”

Atlantic Notes: Meeks, Baynes, Nets, Jenkins

Jodie Meeks played in an NBA game on Sunday for the first time in approximately 10 months, making his first appearance as a member of the Raptors. The veteran shooting guard was hit with a 25-game suspension at the end of last season for violating the league’s anti-drug program, was traded from the Wizards to the Bucks in the offseason, and was ultimately cut by Milwaukee. Meeks didn’t get another NBA offer until last week, when the Raptors signed him to a 10-day contract.

“When I got the call this past week, I was really excited and knew that I was ready for the opportunity,” Meeks said, per Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca. “I’m just looking at it as a chance to prove myself again. I’m trying not to look at it as a 10-day. Don’t put any pressure on yourself — just go out there and play hard. Just come in ready when your number’s called, like any other player on this team. (The Raptors) have treated me very well here. I know I’ve only been here a few days, but it’s a first-class organization. I hope to stay.”

Meeks made a good first impression with the Raptors on Sunday, scoring 10 points and making a pair of three-pointers in 17 minutes off the bench. His 10-day deal will expire this Friday night, but if he keeps knocking down shots, he should get another opportunity in Toronto or elsewhere.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • It has been a frustrating season for Celtics center Aron Baynes, who has been slowed by foot and hand injuries over the course of the year, as ESPN’s Kevin Pelton details. While Baynes will face a decision this offseason on his $5.45MM player option for 2019/20, his focus for now is on getting healthy and helping the C’s make a deep playoff run.
  • An agreement between Mikhail Prokhorov and Joseph Tsai, which will allow Tsai to eventually assume controlling ownership of the Nets, had significant potential for disharmony, but has been a success so far, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s probably one of the greatest things about [them], and a credit to Mikhail and Joe. I haven’t noticed a differing of opinions. Both collaborate,” Nets GM Sean Marks said of the ownership situation. “I collaborate with them a lot. There’s no surprises.”
  • John Jenkins, who inked a rest-of-season contract with the Knicks last week, is thrilled that he was able to parlay a 10-day deal into a longer-term commitment, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It’s all I could ask for coming in on a 10-day and getting an opportunity to succeed,” Jenkins said. “I’m thankful, grateful, extremely happy. All the hard work I’ve put in, and sacrifice, all paying off at the perfect time.”

Nets Notes: FA Mini-Camp, RFA Market, LeVert

The Nets hosted a three-day mini-camp this week for veteran free agents, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link), who identifies former Thunder guard Semaj Christon and 2016 first-round pick Brice Johnson as a pair of the participants.

Per Kennedy (Twitter link), other players with previous NBA experience who took part in Brooklyn’s mini-camp include Xavier Silas, Josh Gray, Naz Mitrou-Long, Jarrod Uthoff, and Byron Mullens. Walt Lemon Jr., who saw a little action with the Pelicans this season, was also in attendance, tweets NetsDaily.

While the Nets may not end up adding any of those players to their roster for next season, the mini-camp gives the club a chance to get a closer look at some players who might have flown under-the-radar, and perhaps some candidates for two-way contracts next season.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets have been the NBA’s most active club in restricted free agency over the past two years, with little success. The club signed Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas, and Otto Porter to offer sheets, but saw all four of those offers matched at the time (Crabbe was later traded to Brooklyn). With that recent history in mind, NetsDaily explores whether the club will foray into the RFA market again in 2018, with Aaron Gordon looming as a possible target.
  • The first draft pick of the Sean Marks era in Brooklyn, Caris LeVert showed impressive potential and versatility during his second NBA season in 2017/18, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. LeVert, who could become a long-term starter for the Nets, won’t be eligible for restricted free agency until 2020.
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is on the wrong end of a lawsuit in New York State Court, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. Prokhorov is being counter-sued by Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistle-blower who exposed Russian cheating in the 2014 Olympics, for backing a libel lawsuit that Rodchenkov viewed as an intimidation tactic.