Is Mikhail Prokhorov leaving the Nets?

Mikhail Prokhorov
Mikhail Prokhorov (AP)

Conflicting reports came out today about the current status of the Nets franchise. They were related to the possibility that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov may be looking to sell some or all of his stake in the franchise.

NetsDaily reported that Nets brass is in talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group, Guggenheim Sports and Entertainment Assets, about merging assets.

NetsDaily stressed that this would not affect Prokhorov’s role with the team.

“The first source emphasized that Prokhorov would continue to control the team as ‘governor and controlling owner of the team ‘for the foreseeable future.'”

NetsDaily’s reporting also indicates that Brooklyn is being valued in the discussions at $1.7 billion with the arena coming in at $1.1 billion

Wow. That’s quite a lot, huh?

So that seems all good and hunky-dory. The Nets matter and they’re valuable. Where’s the problem with that?

Well, the ubiquitous Adrian Wojnarowski was quick to follow NetsDaily’s report with a link to his article from June about a possible Nets sale and describes Brooklyn as being “on the market.”

Wojnarowski also quoted anonymous NBA executives who explain that the feeling around the association is that Prokhorov is on his way out. This is in contrast to NetsDaily’s description of a situation where Prokhorov would remain the controlling owner.

NetsDaily sent out a tweet afterwards emphasizing that if Prokhorov really wanted to sell his stake in the team, he could have already done so.

However, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported that the Guggenheim Sports merger talks could “evolve” into Prokhorov selling his stake completely.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA, who is always in tune with everything in Los Angeles sports, reported that a Dodgers source is saying that nothing is likely to come of these talks.

Shelburne also quotes Dodgers’ chairman Mark Walter who says he hasn’t even seen the Nets’ franchise numbers.

That is information that someone who is looking to acquire an asset as large as the Nets would probably have seen at some point.

“I am the controlling owner of the Dodgers and I have no intention of selling the Dodgers. As for the Nets, I have not seen their numbers. They are a terrific franchise. I would be happy to look at their information and any proposal they wanted to make to me — as I would with any proposal,” said Walter.

It is important to note that Walter never said that he didn’t have discussions, but only that he had not seen the numbers. He did not completely close the door on the possibility.

So what is going on here?

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. Something that the reports have in common is that each is indicating that Prokhorov is soon going to own less of the Nets.

Is Prokhorov really going to be committed to this team for the “foreseeable” future or is this just a stepping stone to completely detaching himself from the team? Will this slow separation from the team affect the way the team is managed?

We can’t yet speak to that, but the prospects of a partnership with the Dodgers is exciting if only because it could finally allow the Nets to use the Dodgers’ iconic Brooklyn font that hasn’t graced a pro-sports team in the borough since the days of Ebbets Field.

Should Prokhorov cut ties with Brooklyn, Nets fans could do a lot worse for ownership than Dodgers brass. MLB fans will know that the Dodgers have spent heavily on their club in pursuit of a championship.

There is surely more to come, but there is a lot less certainty in the Borough of Kings than there was to start the day.

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