Storyline: Brooklyn Nets Sale

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What’s your next move? Brett Yormark: I’m not going to announce it yet. I knew there was going to be an end to one chapter and the beginning of another. Ownership effectively told me last spring that (selling the majority share to Joe Tsai) was something they were contemplating. I extended my deal through December to provide oversight of the transaction. There was always a plan to leave with ownership. I’ve become very close to Mikhail Prokhorov and (board chairman) Dmitry Razumov. It would have been very tough for me to leave the company, knowing that ownership was going to stay on board. My goal is to announce where I’m heading in mid-September, assuming everything works out. I’m going to stay in sports and entertainment and look forward to build something and create value. It’s no different than what I did at NASCAR and BSE.

Tsai, the co-founder and vice chair of Alibaba, became the new owner of the Nets on Friday in a deal that cost $2.35 billion over two years— the most ever paid for a sports team. The median value of an NBA team today is about $1.75 billion, sports bankers said, which means Tsai paid a hefty premium even though the Nets barely make a profit. Tsai, 55, went forward with the deal anyway because he wanted a New York City team and it was the only one for sale, a source familiar with his thinking said.

Tsai is also banking on the NBA’s international growth, especially in China where he has deep ties, sources said. In just one sign of how hot China is getting for the NBA, tech company Tencent Holdings last month announced a five-year expansion of its existing digital media partnership with the basketball league. And it agreed to pay $1.5 billion for the rights — or triple the previous price of $500 million, a source said. China’s demand for the NBA — and the Nets specifically — could grow exponentially if Tsai were to recruit a Chinese player, which he has said he wants to do. “I think it’s just a matter of time,” he told Netsdaily.com in May.

Joseph Tsai is closing in on an agreement to purchase the controlling interest in the Brooklyn Nets from majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, sources confirmed to ESPN. The deal, which is expected to be completed by the end of the week, would value the team at $2.35 billion — making it the largest purchase price of an American professional sports team, surpassing the $2.2 billion paid by David Tepper to buy the Carolina Panthers and by Tilman Fertitta to buy the Houston Rockets.

While he also holds an option to purchase control in 2021 — a source told The Post it’s for the entire remaining 51 percent — reports have suggested he might buy a share of Barclays Center from Mikhail Prokhorov as well. “I don’t know [if that will happen],” Tsai said. “But I would say this: If you talk to all the NBA owners, they all say it makes a lot of sense to combine the ownership of a team and the arena. There’s a lot of synergy. The fans do come into the building to watch the team play, so from a business standpoint it makes a lot of sense. I hope that I would have an opportunity. But it’s up to Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns the arena, to figure out what they want to do.”

Tsai, who has a home in LaJolla, California, sat courtside near the Nets bench with his family. It’s at least the third time he’s been seen at a Nets game since agreeing in principle to purchase 49.5 percent of the team from Mikhail Prokhorov. The reported price tag for the co-founder of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant: $1.13 billion. Under terms of the deal, as reported back in October, Tsai will assume ownership control of the Nets in 2022. Prokhorov would then become a minority stakeholder.
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“I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate this is tearing me apart,” Oladipo told The Athletic. “I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent. With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing. I have to be smart and this decision hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe continuing on the course I’m on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me.”
Oladipo has spent the past three months training with his physical therapist, Luke Miller. “Vic looks great and feels great and is in the best shape he’s ever been in,” Miller said. “He hasn’t had a setback at all. Now it’s about him taking everything into account, close this 2019-20 chapter and focus on 2020-21, which I believe will be a big one. He’s extremely close to the old VO, but he’s not there yet and he knows the work to get back there.
“He’s a very smart guy, and he’s asked several different doctors and physicians across the country, mentors and former basketball players he looks up to. We treated these past three months as if he was going to come back, so he kept everything high intensity-wise. “We told him from the start that he wouldn’t be 100 percent right away. It takes guys a good two years. It takes two years before you wake up in the morning and say, ‘I didn’t have surgery.’ We’ve talked through this thing — we just forgot to factor in the pandemic. That’s where he is hitting the reset button and focus on 2020-21. That’s where his mindset is.”
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