After signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving this offseason, the Brooklyn Nets have emerged as one of the NBA's brightest up-and-coming franchises. They'll reportedly have a new owner as they continue their attempt to ascend to into the league's elite.
Joseph Tsai, the co-founder of e-commerce company Alibaba who already owned 49 percent of the franchise, will purchase the remaining 51 percent from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov for a total of $2.35 billion, according to the New York Post. The deal, expected to be announced this week, would be the biggest sale ever for a sports franchise. From the New York Post:
The $2.35 billion transaction would mark the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise -- beating hedge fund owner David Tepper's $2.2 billion acquisition last year of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, and Tilman Fertitta's $2.2 billion purchase of the NBA's Houston Rockets in 2017.
Tsai already owns 49 percent of the team, which he bought for $1 billion last year. At that time, the 55-year-old businessman locked in the right to buy the remaining 51 percent of the team before the 2021-2022 basketball season, for an additional $1.35 billion.
If Tsai signs off on the deal, he'll be exercising his right to buy the remaining 51 percent of the team from Prokhorov two seasons early.
Tsai, who Forbes estimates has a net worth of $9.3 billion, was reported to have been in talks to purchase Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum from Prokhorov back in March.
We've seen the difference that strong ownership can play in NBA success over the years. In 2014, ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, the most ever paid for an NBA franchise at the time. During his tenure the franchise has left the controversial Donald Sterling era in the past and built itself into a 2019-20 championship favorite after the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason.
The Nets can only hope that their shift in ownership leads to a similar trajectory.