After purchasing the Nets in 2010, majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov may be saying “Goodbye Brooklyn!”
According to a report from Bloomberg News, Prokhorov, the first overseas NBA owner, is seeking possible buyers through Evercore Partners bankers for the Brooklyn franchise, which relocated from New Jersey for the 2012-13 NBA campaign.
Prokhorov purchased 80 percent of the franchise for $223 million. He also owns 45 percent of Barclays Center, home of the Nets. Since then, the value of the franchise has risen drastically. In 2014, Forbes valued the team at $780 million, good enough for to be fifth on the publication’s top 30 NBA list. Should the Russian owner successfully sell the team, the number has the potential to increase. Last year, the Los Angeles Clippers was valued at $575 million, and was purchased by Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
Despite the swirling rumors, Prokhorov continues to deny he is actively seeking a sale and insists nothing is imminent. “As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers — that’s just good business,” said Ellen Pinchuk, a representative for Prokhorov in a statement. “There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team.”
The Brooklyn brand experienced early success, both on and off the court. Merchandise, such as jerseys, was among the most popular- selling in the league when the team made the move from Jersey.
On the court, the Nets have reached the postseason each of their first two seasons in Brooklyn, even reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season before losing to the then-reigning NBA champion Miami Heat.
However, the moderate success has come at a price. Due to various trades and free agent signings, the Nets had a payroll of $101 million last year, forcing the team to pay around $80 million in luxury tax due to the league’s collective bargaining agreement. This season, the team has cut payroll, though it still remains the highest in the league at $90 million. In addition, the team has struggled through the first half of the season due to various injuries.
By press time, a request for comment had not been returned by the Nets.