Nets ownership denies sale of team “imminent,” which is what you expect them to say

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It’s the old “where there’s smoke there’s fire” idea.

There were reports last year the Nets were up for sale. There were reports late last summer that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was in some kind of talks with the Guggenheim Group (which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers). For the past year Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner has been looking to sell his 20 percent of the franchise. None of that worked out.

So now there are the latest reports that Prokhorov has put the team up for sale, something first by Bloomberg. Among others Howard Beck of Bleacher Report confirms that news.

However, the Nets owners are trying to throw some water on that fire. Here is what they told Chris Broussard of ESPN.

ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard reported that Nets CEO Brett Yormark, general manager Billy King and executive VP and chief communications officer Barry Baum all denied Bloomberg’s initial report.

“As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers — that’s just good business,” a spokesperson for Prokhorov said in a statement. “There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team.”

Imminent? No. But if you are trying to sell something and get as much money as you can for it — and apparently the stumbles of the Russian economy have hit Prokhorov hard so he could use the cash — then you don’t look eager to sell. That’s what is going on here. Just try to look patient, get together enough interested parties to start a bidding war, and stand back.

This sale is just the team — Prokhorov is not selling his 45 percent stake in the Barclay’s Center itself nor his interest in the surrounding Pacific Park development. This isn’t a real estate deal, this is just the basketball team.

Which, because it’s in New York, will draw some big offers. Like north of $1 billion offers. And watch, there will be a line of people looking to bid.