Forbes: Nets would lose less money with no season than 50-50 split

The New Jersey Nets are one of five teams that would stand to lose more money by playing 2011-12 with a 50-50 split of BRI than if the NBA cancelled the season, according to a study by Forbes. Forbes lists the other four teams as the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, and Charlotte Bobcats — explaining Michael Jordan’s recent stance as a hardline owner.

The player’s association said yesterday that they would accept a 50-50 split if the NBA was willing to bend on certain system issues, most of which revolve around the luxury tax. Henry Abbott breaks it all down here. The two sides will meet at 1 PM today in an effort to compromise on those system issues. If they can’t agree on a deal, the owners have threatened that their offers will get substantially worse as we miss more games.

Despite this valuation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Mikhail Prokhorov wouldn’t approve a 50-50 split:

  • The Nets suffered operating losses last year and likely would this year at a 50-50 split, but this is just the first year of a ten-year CBA. With the impending move to Brooklyn, operating costs — and revenues — are going to change drastically once the Nets leave Newark. The Nets aren’t profitable now, but over the course of a ten-year CBA, they stand to cover those losses.
  • On the court, the Nets have one major priority now — retaining Deron Williams — and that’s easier to do if he’s playing basketball in the Western Hemisphere. There’s no guarantee he’ll re-sign even if the union and NBA agree in time for a shortened season, but without one the Nets are at greater risk of losing their franchise player after just 12 messy games.

There’s no doubt that Prokhorov enjoys the psychic benefits of owning an NBA franchise, but the franchise’s profitability isn’t ancillary. Prokhorov is a businessman, one of the best in the world. He bought the Nets to get them to Brooklyn, build a billion-dollar arena, win a championship, and make a jet-skiload of money. The move is what piqued his interest in throwing Bruce Ratner a $200 million lifeline, he’s said as much himself. But he also knows Brooklyn’s a tougher sell with Jordan Farmar as the starting point guard.

Today is day 132 of the NBA lockout.