When Steve Ballmer ponied up a cool $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers and boot Donald Sterling from the NBA for good, some folks questioned whether the price paid by the former Microsoft CEO represented a massive overvaluation of the assets being purchased. Some fellow NBA owners, though, surely wondered whether the packages they could put on the market — franchise, arena, the works — could fetch a similar, previously unthinkable windfall.
As Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported back in June, Mikhail Prokhorov was one such wonderer, willing to listen to sales pitches from investors interested in taking the once free-spending (but perhaps no longer) Russian billionaire's stake in the Brooklyn Nets off his heli-skiing hands. Prokhorov briskly denied interest in selling the team he purchased back in 2010; for what it's worth, I haven't seen any "for sale" signs out on Atlantic Avenue whenever I've walked by recently. But there's something brewing over at Barclays Center, according to NetsDaily ... and if it comes to pass, it'd be a multi-sport, multibillion-dollar blockbuster:
The ownership of the Brooklyn Nets is in "ongoing discussions" with Guggenheim Sports and Entertainment Assets, owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on a "combination of assets." Mikhail Prokhorov would remain in control of the Nets and Bruce Ratner would remain in control of Barclays Center, say sources close to the discussions.
In the discussions, the team is being valued at $1.7 billion and the arena at $1.1 billion, said multiple sources. There is no agreement yet, nor a deadline for a conclusion of the discussions. The next step would be an agreement in principle followed by a closing. The combined assets of a new entity could be as high as $8 billion.
The first source emphasized that Prokhorov would continue to control the team as "governor and controlling owner" of the team "for the foreseeable future."
While NetsDaily makes it clear multiple times that no deals are done yet, that Prokhorov and Ratner could well retain controlling interests in the Nets and Barclays in a completed deal, and whether the partnership would result in the Nets' principals picking up ownership stakes in MLB's Dodgers, the site's source suggests the "combination" would present a path for Prokhorov to cash in at least some of his chips. That, however, has led some to wonder whether a more substantial sale could be in the offing:
Would not shock me if Prokhorov's full Nets stake came on the table in the not-so-distant future.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) October 2, 2014
.@NetsDaily describes Guggenheim talks as potential partnership, but high-level NBA execs believe Prokohorov cashes out sooner than later.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 2, 2014
Prokhorov owns 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of Barclays Center. If the next Ballmer was willing to pay the $2.8 billion total valuation price for the whole kit-and-kaboodle — which seems totally insane, but then, so did $2 billion for the Clippers — the value of Prokhorov's cut would look something like $1.855 billion. This is where we remind you that he paid $233 million for his stake in the then-New Jersey Nets less than five years ago, and that all of us who went to school for stuff like literature and journalism really should've listened to the parents who suggested business and finance, if not nickel-mining and denim theory.
If, in fact, Brooklyn's team and building are on the block, you'd have to imagine there'll be quite a few deep-pocketed parties interested in getting in the mix ... starting, perhaps, with the groups who came up short when Ballmer went over the top for the Clips. NetsDaily terms discussions between Nets ownership and Guggenheim as "ongoing," so we're sure to hear more about these talks in the weeks and months ahead.
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