Reports: Joseph Tsai to buy rest of the Brooklyn Nets
NBA.com Global on Aug 15, 2019 07:34 AM
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NBA.com staff report
A little more than a year ago, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov sold 49% of his team to Joseph Tsai. Now, it seems, Tsai will take over full control of the team.
Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post report Tsai is close to signing a deal to buy the remaining 51% of the team from Prokhorov. News of the pending agreement was also reported by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The total deal is expected to cost $2.35 billion and, per the Post, is expected to be announced this week. If it goes through as reported, the sale would mark the highest ever paid for a sports franchise.
Last year, hedge fund owner David Tepper paid $2.2 billion to buy the NFL's Carolina Panthers and in 2017, Tillman Fertitta paid $2.2 billion to buy the NBA's Houston Rockets.
Tsai, the co-founder of the China-based global internet company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., paid $1 billion for his 49% share last April. The deal allowed Tsai to acquire further shares of the team before the start of the 2021-22 season for an additional $1.35 billion. If Tsai signs off on the deal, he will be exercising his right to buy out Prokhorov two seasons early.
Per Forbes, Tsai's estimated net worth is $9.3 billion.
Prokhorov bought the Nets in 2010 and the Russian oversaw the Nets' move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. The sale of shares to Tsai in 2018 did not include the Barclays Center, which Prokhorov's company will continue to own. However, the Post reported in March that Tsai was in talks to buy Barclays as well as the new Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
The Post reports that the NBA pushes its owners to also own their arenas, which is one of the reasons Tsai will also be acquiring the Barclays Center at some point.
This summer has been a massive one for the Nets, as they reeled two of the biggest names in free agency: forward Kevin Durant and guard Kyrie Irving. Those additions -- plus other offseason moves by Brooklyn to shore up its depth -- have the Nets looking like a favorite to rise quickly in the Eastern Conference. That comes after a 42-40 season and playoff appearance in 2018-19 that confounded most experts.