Mikhail Prokhorov

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.

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Celtics, Saric, Prokhorov

Re-signing Joe Harris is one of Nets GM Sean Marks’ offseason priorities, he told Alex Labidou of the team’s website and other reporters during a press conference. Harris averaged 10.8 PPG and shot 41.9% from long range in 25.3 MPG this season. “I think Joe made it pretty clear from statements he made that he’d love to be back here. That’s how the organization feels about him, too,” Marks said. Harris made just over $1.5MM and will likely receive a significant salary bump.

In other Atlantic Division developments:

  • The Celtics might regret not trading their own first-round pick for Grizzlies swingman Tyreke Evans to fortify their bench, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News opines. It’s possible but certainly no slam dunk that the Celtics will get a useful player with the No. 27 overall pick, Deveney continues. Boston didn’t know at the time it would lose Kyrie Irving for the postseason but Game 1 against the Bucks showed how badly the team could use a playmaker off the bench, Deveney adds.
  • Dario Saric‘s 3-point shooting is a key component in the Sixers’ playoff run, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Saric had 20 points and went 4-for-6 from long range in Game 1 against the Heat. “It’s the future of our sport,” coach Brett Brown said. “If you don’t have a four-man that can stretch the floor you aren’t going to play very long in the playoffs.”
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s stake in the team in 2015 may have been purchased at an artificially low price, according to Josh Kosman of the New York Post. Prokhorov did not make it easy for Forest City Enterprises to find an outside buyer when it tried to sell its 20 percent share of the franchise, withholding financial information from prospective buyers, sources told Kosman. Prokhorov would up buying that stake at a $875MM valuation and that valuation increased 270% in three years when he sold 49% of the team last week.

Joe Tsai Completes Purchase Of 49% Stake In Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov has officially sold a 49% stake in the Nets to new minority owner Joseph Tsai, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg (Twitter link). Soshnick writes that the Nets received an overall valuation of $2.35 billion in the transaction, a new NBA record.

“As a lifelong sports fan, I am very proud to join the Nets ownership and the NBA family,” Tsai said in a statement, per the Nets’ official announcement. “I lived in New York in the early days of my career and the City holds a special place in my heart. I share the vision and culture that Mikhail Prokhorov, CEO Brett Yormark, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have put in place, and I look forward to being part of this great franchise.”

Tsai’s agreement to buy a significant share in the Nets was reported way back in October of 2017, but took some time to finalize. In addition to giving the Alibaba executive vice chairman and co-founder a significant stake in the Nets, the deal will also give him the opportunity to buy the franchise outright from Prokhorov in three years.

As has been previous reported, Prokhorov will continue to oversee Brooklyn’s basketball and business operations for the next few years, but Tsai will have the option to assume controlling interest in the franchise in 2021.

The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved Tsai’s purchase of 49% of the Nets.

Joseph Tsai Buying 49 Percent Stake In Nets

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has reached an agreement to sell a 49% minority stake in the Nets to Alibaba executive vice chairman and co-founder Joseph Tsai, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN. League sources tell the ESPN duo that Tsai’s purchase will be based on a $2.3 billion valuation of the franchise.

As Wojnarowski and Lowe detail, the agreement between Prokhorov and Tsai will give the new investor the option to take over a majority interest in the franchise in the not-too-distant future. The plan is for Prokhorov to remain the principal and operating owner of the Nets for four more years, with the assumption that he’ll sell his stake once Tsai triggers his option.

As long as Tsai controls just 49% of the team, Prokhorov will continue to oversee the Nets’ basketball and business operations, sources tell the ESPN duo.

Reports of Prokhorov’s willingness to sell 49% of the Nets, with a path to controlling ownership for the new minority shareholder, have surfaced throughout the year. Tsai, whose Alibaba Group is a massive Chinese e-commerce company, had been cited as a possible buyer multiple times, despite the fact that a spokesperson repeatedly denied his interest.

The $2.3 billion valuation on Tsai’s purchase of the Nets is somewhat surprising. Although Brooklyn is certainly a favorable market, the club has won just 41 total games in the last two years, and currently lacks superstar talent. The agreement also doesn’t include ownership of the Barclays Center, the team’s arena. Nonetheless, the $2.3 billion valuation is a new record for an NBA franchise, surpassing the Rockets’ $2.2 billion sale price from earlier this year.

[RELATED: Tilman Fertitta Approved To Buy Rockets For $2.2 Billion]

Although the Nets haven’t enjoyed much on-court success in recent years, Tsai has “expressed enthusiasm over the direction of the franchise,” and has confidence in GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson, sources tell Wojnarowski and Lowe. Tsai intends to take advantage of his strong business ties in Asia to create “global business opportunities” for the Nets.

Nets Notes: Ownership, Crabbe, Outlook, Booker

Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of The New York Post are back with another update on the potential Nets sale, reporting that prospective bidders for the franchise have been pushing owner Mikhail Prokhorov to sell a controlling interest in the team. Prokhorov is reportedly interested in selling a 49% stake with a path for a new minority owner to purchase a controlling interest within three years, but potential buyers are hoping to gain control of the club immediately.

“They’re asking, but I don’t think he’s giving in,” one source close to the discussions tells Kosman and Lewis. However, another source suggested that he wouldn’t be shocked if Prokhorov surrenders full control immediately.

While it remains to be seen what a sale will look like, a deal could be announced in the coming days or weeks, sources tell The Post. According to Kosman and Lewis, at least two “New York financial titans” are believed to be among the potential suitors, along with a Texas-based group that lost the bidding for the Rockets. Former Knicks and MSG president Dave Checketts is also rumored to be involved in a group of prospective buyers, sources tell The Post.

Here’s more on the Nets, as we wait to see how the sale process will play out:

Latest On Nets’ Ownership Situation

Reports on a potential sale of the Nets have surfaced throughout the offseason, with current owner Mikhail Prokhorov publicly conveying a desire to sell up to 49% of the franchise and denying reports suggesting that he’d be willing to give up control of the team.

This week, a pair of new reports have provided some updates on that process, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Prokhorov is getting closer to selling the Nets, and multiple suitors are in the running to purchase 49% of the franchise, sources tell Josh Kosman of The New York Post. The proposed sale wouldn’t include ownership of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, per Kosman.
  • Although a potential buyer would only receive a minority stake in the club at this point, the proposed agreement would give that investor the right to buy a larger stake and become controlling owner of the franchise within three years, Kosman reports.
  • In the wake of the Rockets selling for $2.2 billion, Prokhorov is seeking a sale price that values the Nets at over $2 billion as well. That means a 49% share of the franchise could be worth in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
  • Two sources told Jessica Toonkel and Olivia Oran of Reuters that Alibaba executive vice chairman Joe Tsai is in advanced talks to buy a stake in the Nets. However, Alibaba spokesperson Jennifer Kuperman called it a “false” report. “Joe Tsai has never talked to the seller and he is not purchasing any stake in the Brooklyn Nets,” Kuperman said in a statement.
  • Reuters’ initial report indicated that an agreement with Tsai could be finalized within the next few weeks, with a franchise valuation of about $2.2 billion. However, those sources cautioned that the deal could still fall apart.
  • Kosman, who has previously reported Tsai’s interest in the Nets – which Alibaba denied at that time too – was unable to confirm whether the Taiwanese billionaire is currently in talks with the team.

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, has denied the rumored interest.

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.