Mikhail Prokhorov

Prokhorov Looking To Sell Nets In Two-Part Process?

Over the course of the 2017 NBA offseason, there have been conflicting reports on whether Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov intends to sell just a minority share of his franchise, or if he’s seriously considering selling a controlling interest. In his latest report, Josh Kosman of The New York Post reiterates that Prokhorov plans to offload his controlling interest in the Nets, but may do so in a two-part process.

According to Kosman, Prokhorov will look to sell a minority stake in the team first, but will give that buyer a window to purchase the entire franchise — perhaps within three years or so. One source suggested to Kosman that “there will be a new (Nets) owner in the next few years.”

While the idea of selling 49% of the club may sound appealing to Prokhorov, who could retain control while receiving a huge boost to his bank account, there likely aren’t many investors out there interested in spending upwards of $1 billion on less than half of an NBA franchise and not receiving any real power. However, if there’s a clear path to becoming the controlling owner of the Nets, that scenario figures to be much more appealing to potential buyers.

Sources tell Kosman that the Nets believe they can demand a price of at least $2 billion after seeing the Rockets sell for $2.2 billion. Of course, that Rockets sale included operation of the Toyota Center Arena, and Prokhorov doesn’t plan to sell the separately owned Barclays Center, according to Kosman. So it remains to be seen how that will impact the sale price.

[RELATED: Tilman Fertitta Buying Rockets For Record Price]

As for who might be in the mix as a potential buyer, Kosman reports that Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai has expressed some interest, though reps for his family office, Blue Pool Capital, deny that interest. Other potential suitors – including some “Wall Street types” – have also been doing due diligence on the franchise, according to Kosman, who says that would-be buyers are waiting for clarification on various details before submitting formal offers.

Unlike the Rockets, who made a public statement earlier this summer announcing the franchise was up for sale, the Nets have not officially announced that Prokhorov is looking to sell controlling interest in the team. In fact, according to a NetsDaily report, a spokesman for Prokhorov downplayed the idea that the Russian owner is looking to offload the franchise, at least in the short term.

“We have received multiple offers with varying formats for buying a part or all of the Nets,” that spokesman said. “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.”

Latest On The Potential Sale Of The Nets

The Nets’ franchise is drawing interest from potential buyers and owner Mikhail Prokhorov is hoping to garner a $2 billion offer for the organization, Josh Kosman of the New York Post reports. Prokhorov recently attempted to sell a minority stake in the franchise. However, that fell through, leading the Russian billionaire to parse offers for the entire franchise.

Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai reportedly has interest in buying the franchise and Kosman hears that he is trying to “box out others in the sales process.” It’s worth noting that a representative from his office, Blue Pool, have denied the rumored.

The Nets would like to find a Chinese backer, Kosman adds. Brooklyn’s executive VP of Global Partnership was in China last month setting up upwards of 20 meetings with potential buyers and partners.

Nets Notes: Culture, Marks, Tanking, Noel

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the culture Sean Marks has created in Brooklyn since he was hired as the Nets’ general manager.

As Lowe details, the Nets were leaning toward hiring Bryan Colangelo as their GM over Marks back in February 2016, but team chairman Dmitry Razumov heard from several respected execs who praised Marks during that All-Star weekend, and had a long talk with Spurs GM R.C. Buford that helped convince the franchise Marks was the man for the job.

Since joining the Nets, Marks has attempted to turn the club into one players want to be a part of, creating a “serious but welcoming” atmosphere, as well as a sense of closeness and community within the organization. The club has also prioritized sports science treatment, keeping its players on minutes restrictions and having them fill out daily questionnaires about sleep, soreness, and diet. “I could play another five years doing what they do,” said Randy Foye, who spent 2016/17 with the Nets.

Lowe’s entire piece on the Nets is worth the read, particularly for more of those tidbits on the work that Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have done to overhaul the team’s culture. Here are a few of the highlights from the story:

  • Razumov says team ownership is “ready to be patient” and would be fine with a 25-win season in 2017/18 if the Nets’ young players continue to develop and take positive steps forward.
  • The Nets will finally control their first-round pick again in 2019, and there has been talk within the franchise of tanking in 2018/19 in order to create an opportunity to draft a blue-chip prospect. Although Atkinson acknowledges that there’s  “faction” of people within the organization who believe that’s the way to go, it’s not the plan right now. “I don’t think it is in the cards to tank,” Marks said, per Lowe. “The goal is to compete and win games.”
  • The Nets hope their young core – which remains a work in progress – will help the team recruit veteran free agents, like the Sixers were able to do this summer. “We hope free agents say, ‘We want to play with those young bucks,'” Marks said.
  • The Sixers and Nets had brief trade discussions involving Nerlens Noel last season, but Brooklyn had no interest in giving up much for a player the team could pursue in free agency, sources tell Lowe. Noel currently remains a restricted free agent, though the Nets no longer have the cap room necessary to pursue him.
  • Despite recent rumors about Mikhail Prokhorov considering selling a controlling interest in the Nets, he continues to market only a minority stake in the team, according to Razumov.
  • According to Lowe, the NBA has talked about the possibility of banning the ability to swap picks in between drafts in which a team owes its picks to another team. That possibility hasn’t been discussed at length yet, but such a rule would have prevented the Nets from including a 2017 pick-swap in their deal with the Celtics when Boston was already receiving Brooklyn’s 2016 and 2018 first-rounders.

Mikhail Prokhorov May Consider Selling Nets

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.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Celtics, Knicks, Carroll

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas won’t need surgery to fix the right hip injury that forced him out of the playoffs, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Several hip specialists evaluated Thomas, but no course of action could be determined until the swelling lessened. The injury first struck Thomas in mid-March, then was aggravated in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Wizards. “Isaiah is making good progress,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “He’s out on the court, he’s shooting. He’s full speed ahead on the stationary bike and working in the swimming pool. He’s progressing nicely.” As long as there are no setbacks, Thomas is expected to be ready for training camp.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • For the second straight season, the Celtics appear headed to camp with more than 15 guaranteed contracts, Himmelsbach writes in a separate story. Shane Larkin reached an agreement with Boston last week on a fully guaranteed deal, which brings the total to 16. The roster will have to be trimmed to 15 by the start of the season, not counting a pair of two-way contracts, so the Celtics will either have to make a trade or waive a player with guaranteed money. In the same situation last fall, Boston waived R.J. Hunter and his $1.2MM deal.
  • The Knicks are still hoping to find a veteran point guard to team with Ron Baker and rookie Frank Ntilikina, relays ESPN’s Ian Begley. The team believes its best chance to get one is in a potential Carmelo Anthony trade.
  • The Nets didn’t require DeMarre Carroll to undergo a physical before completing their trade with the Raptors because they received so much compensation, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Brooklyn picked up Carroll, Toronto’s 2018 first-rounder and an additional 2018 second-rounder, while the Raptors got Justin Hamilton, who has since been waived, and an $11.8MM trade exception. Carroll played 72 games last season after having knee surgery in his first year in Toronto and being limited to 26 games.
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov intends to sell up to 49% of the team while keeping ownership of the Barclays Center, writes Mike Ozanian of Forbes. The NBA’s advisory finance committee has approved Prokhorov’s lease terms, but a final OK must come from the league once a seller is found.

Mikhail Prokhorov Looking To Sell 49% Stake In Nets

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is looking to sell 49% of his ownership stake in the franchise, he told Russian media this week, according to an Associated Press report. Per Prokhorov, “the process is going on and we are looking for a buyer.”

Prokhorov said back in the fall that he wanted to retain majority ownership of the Nets, but that he was interested in bringing in an investor to take on a minority share of the team — preferably, that owner would be a local one to strengthen the club’s presence in New York. As NetsDaily outlines, Prokhorov reiterated this week that he’s committed to the Nets and “will remain the majority owner of the team.”

League sources tell NetsDaily that in recent months a handful of potential buyers have approached either the NBA, Prokhorov’s investment bankers, or Allen & Co., the firm Prokhorov hired to identify possible investors. However, the NetsDaily report suggests that the asking price is high, and there’s some uncertainty about whether a minority investor would be given an option to eventually purchase a controlling interest in the team. There also may be a divide between the Nets and the NBA over whether a stake in the Barclays Center should be involved in any sale.

In February, Forbes valued the Nets franchise at $1.8 billion, which would mean that a 49% share in the team would approach $900MM. Teams that have been sold in the past have often fetched a higher return than Forbes’ valuations, so Prokhorov could be seeking an even higher price from a prospective buyer.

Eastern Notes: Playoffs, Tavares, Pavlova, Jackson

The Eastern Conference playoff matchups are set. The Celtics take home the No. 1 seed and will play the Bulls (8) in the opening round. The Cavaliers (2) will take on the Pacers (7). The Raptors (3) will clash with the Bucks (6) and the Wizards (4) will battle the Hawks (5).

The Heat were hoping to sneak in, but with both Indiana and Chicago winning tonight, they will watch the playoffs from home. Coach Erik Spoelstra, who’s in the conversation for the Coach of the Year award, is upset to see Miami’s season end, as Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald passes along via Twitter. “I don’t know if I ever felt this way about a team before. I don’t know if I’ve ever wanted anything more for a team,” Spoelstra said.

On the bright side, Miami has a shot at the No. 1 overall pick, owning 0.5% of the ping pong balls in this year’s lottery. You can find each lottery team’s chances at the No.1 overall pick on our Reverse Standings page.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Cavaliers swapped Edy Tavares for Larry Sanders because they felt Tavares was “more game ready,” Sam Amico of Amico Hoops relays (Twitter feed). It was reported yesterday that Cleveland and Sanders mutually parted because he would not have made the rotation. Tavares had 10 rebounds and six blocks in his debut with the team tonight.
  • Irina Pavlova, who serves as a top adviser to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, is leaving the organization, Chris Mannix of The Vertical writes. Pavlova is on the board of directors for Brooklyn and Brooklyn Arena LLC, which is the company that runs the Barclays Center.
  • Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy sees Reggie Jackson‘s injury as a major reason why the Pistons never met expectations, Rod Beard of The Detroit News passes along.  Jackson didn’t play well upon returning, but Van Gundy believes he will bounce back next year. “I think Reggie will come back and be as good as or better than he was two years ago. I honestly do. There were a lot of things that were physically and mentally very difficult for him to handle,” SVG said. “He’s committed to getting those things changed. He’s a talented guy and he’ll be really good next year — I have confidence in him.”

New York Notes: Nets, Knicks, Noah, Kilpatrick

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said today that he won’t surrender control of the franchise, and will remain the team’s majority owner, but will seek out a local minority ownership partner to “strengthen” the team’s presence in New York, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com.

According to Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick (via Twitter), the Nets have hired Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co. to help find a local investor to buy a minority stake in the franchise. Net Income of NetsDaily adds (via Twitter) that Prokhorov is only interested in selling a piece of the Nets — he won’t also sell a portion of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, the parent company that owns the Barclays Center.

Here are several more Nets- and Knicks-related notes from out of New York:

  • The Knicks – and head coach Jeff Hornacek – finally trusted Joakim Noah in a key situation on Monday, and it backfired on them, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Meanwhile, Fred Kerber of The New York Post examines the Noah situation and wonders whether it’s a blip on the radar or the start of a $72MM disaster.
  • In an interview with Karizza Sanchez of Complex.com, Iman Shumpert was asked about Phil Jackson‘s “posse” comment regarding LeBron James, and replied that the Knicks president has “always got a comment.” More from Shumpert, who grew up rooting for the Bulls and was traded away from the Knicks by Jackson: “You traded me away from New York, cool. It’s all business, it’s all love, whatever. But I’m a grownup now. You not my hero no more. The Bulls era is gone, Mike is gone, Pippen is gone, you ain’t coaching the Bulls no more. So, I don’t care what you got to say about ’Bron.”
  • Sean Kilpatrick has appeared in 52 NBA games, including 40 with the Nets, but none were better than Tuesday’s win over the Clippers, in which he scored 38 points grabbed 14 rebounds, both career highs. After the win, Kilpatrick spoke to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders about how Nets GM Sean Marks changed his life.
  • Can 2016 first-rounder Caris LeVert become a foundational piece for the Nets? Reed Wallach of NetsDaily takes a closer look.

Kings Eye McMillan, Ewing, McHale, Blatt, Others

1:27pm: McHale appears unlikely to take the Kings job, and Del Negro is the most realistic candidate, Mannix suggests.

THURSDAY, 1:02pm: Nate McMillan is also in the mix, sources told Stein (Twitter link).

10:15pm: The possibility of hiring McHale is gaining traction within the Kings organization, Chris Mannix of The Vertical tweets. Sacramento is intrigued by the possibility of McHale working with DeMarcus Cousins, Mannix adds.

3:09pm: The Kings are also considering Patrick Ewing, league sources tell Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

12:40pm: Kevin McHale and Mark Jackson are also under consideration, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Kings do have strong interest in Thibodeau and Brooks but acknowledge they’ll be tough gets, Stein adds. McHale is just a few months removed from having been fired by the Rockets, while Jackson last coached in 2013/14 with the Warriors.

WEDNESDAY, 11:53am: The Kings, poised to fire George Karl, will consider a group of candidates that includes David Blatt, Vinny Del Negro, Jeff Hornacek, Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga and Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks, who frequently draw mention as top NBA coaching candidates, are uninterested in the job, as Wojnarowski hears from league sources.

Blatt, whom the Cavs fired as their head coach in January, is also reportedly under consideration from the Knicks, though he’s reportedly a long shot for that job. The Nets have reportedly been eyeing him as well, and he has ties to the Brooklyn organization, having coached the Russian national team, which received significant financial backing from Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Sacramento reportedly contacted Del Negro about its head coaching job in December 2014, when the team fired Michael Malone. Del Negro, a former Kings player, hasn’t coached in the NBA since the 2012/13 season with the Clippers, but Wojnarowski reported that he interviewed for the Pelicans job last summer.

Chatter about Hornacek has been quiet since the Suns fired him in February, though he earned respect around the league when he led Phoenix to a 48-34 record in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season during his first year as an NBA head coach. The Suns have regressed since then, and Hornacek wound up 101-112 overall in Phoenix. He was an assistant under former Kings coach Tyrone Corbin on the Jazz.

Wojnarowski wrote in February that Larranaga and Atkinson weren’t particularly eager to land the Kings job if it were to open. The assistants both reportedly interviewed for the Sixers job three years ago and have drawn frequent mention as a possible NBA head coaching candidate since. Larranaga was reportedly a contender for the recent opening at Georgia Tech that Josh Pastner ultimately filled.

Atlantic Notes: Prokhorov, Crowder, Casey

Russian law enforcement and tax officials are searching the Moscow offices of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s company, ONEXIM, reports Yuliya Fedorinova of Bloomberg.com. It’s not entirely clear why the search is taking place, though the Russian wire service Interfax reports the search has to do with offshore investment and tax payments and is part of a criminal proceeding, according to NetsDaily (Twitter link). Prokhorov ran against Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2012, and Putin is applying political pressure on offshore investors, as Fedorinova details. The ONEXIM under investigation isn’t the same as the holding company that controls the Nets, as NetsDaily points out.

While we wait to find out the implications of the Brooklyn-related news, see more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Magic insisted that the Celtics include Jae Crowder in a would-be deal when the sides discussed potential Tobias Harris trades before the deadline, and Orlando’s insistence on Crowder stopped the talks from going further, a league source told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. Crowder isn’t untouchable, but he’s close, a league executive whose team negotiated with the Celtics told Blakely.
  • The Raptors have yet to pick up the team option on their contract with coach Dwane Casey for next season, but GM Masai Ujiri strongly signaled Wednesday that the team will, as expected, observes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link). “He’s been phenomenal I think, whether it’s reading games or adjustments, or just growth overall as a coach,” Ujiri said. “To be honest, everyone makes such a big deal like ‘OK, if we don’t make it past the first round, what will happen to Casey?’ Well Coach Casey deserves to be our coach, that’s 100% and I stand by that. He deserves to be our coach in the future because he has put in the work I think to bring winning to our program. The players have responded well I think, and it has translated a little bit and we hope it translates to the playoffs and I’m very hopeful it will because he’s a defensive minded coach but he’s been tremendous for us.”
  • Owner James Dolan still trusts team president Phil Jackson and his triangle offense, sources tell Marc Berman of the New York Post, and it’s doubtful Jackson will opt out of his deal after next season, as he hopes to serve out his contract, which runs until March 2019, Berman writes. Some around the league think Dolan wants Jackson to think about deferring to GM Steve Mills for the decision on the team’s next head coach if the Zen Master does intend to opt out, and if that’s the case, Mark Jackson, Scott Brooks and Randy Wittman, along with David Blatt, would be candidates, according to Berman.
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