Report: Mikhail Prokhorov selling Nets

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Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was reportedly listening to offers for the franchise in June, though he denied any interest in selling.

Reports in October said the Nets and Dodgers were discussing a type of merger that some believed would have been a straight sale, but talks broke down.

Now, it seems Prokhorov is actually committed to selling.

Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News:

The Brooklyn Nets are for sale.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov retained Evercore Partners (EVR) to sell the National Basketball Association team he bought in 2010, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Prokhorov, 49, the first foreign owner of an NBA team, holds 80 percent of the club and 45 percent of the Barclays Center, its 2 1/2-year-old arena which next season will house hockey’s New YorkIslanders. Only the team is for sale, the people said.

Remember that part of the reason Prokhorov bought the Nets was to get a share of the Pacific Park — formerly Atlantic Yards — retail and residential development that goes around the Barclays Center. It was really a real estate deal with a team attached. Notice that only the team is for sale, not his share of the real estate.

It’ll be interesting to see how this sale compares to the Hawks’.

The Nets are 16-22 and sinking. They have tons of committed salary for underwhelming players, and they’ve traded away many future draft picks. They lost a lot of money last season, and they’re in danger of triggering luxury-tax repeater penalties.

The Hawks, on the other hand, are an Eastern Conference-best 29-8 and the NBA’s hottest team. They have a relatively clean cap sheet and no outgoing draft picks. They even have the right to swap first rounders with the  Nets this year, something that will surely come in handy.

But they play in Atlanta, and the Nets play in New York.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement, with more revenue sharing and stiffer penalties for big spenders, has leveled the gap between markets. I think a team’s current level of play is more important than ever when it comes to franchise valuation, as the current rules encourage roster turnover. If a new owner can mold his franchise in a few years regardless, better to have Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver in the interim rather than Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez.

The Nets will cost more than the Hawks, and Brooklyn will fetch more than a $1 billion. Market sizes still matter, and owning an NBA team is still about status — something better achieved in New York than Atlanta.

But I’m curious just how wide the gap will be between the Nets and Hawks.