Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says he is 'committed to the team'

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said Wednesday that it was never his intention to sell the majority stake of the team. Prokhorov did confirm, however, that he is open to moving a minority stake, although no deal is imminent.


"Well, I think there are several possibilities -- one of them you can ask my [minority] partner, Bruce Ratner, it's up to him to decide. Or we [together] can sell, for example, 49 percent to give to somebody else," Prokhorov said. "But for the time being, nothing is on the table, and as soon as we hear of any changes in capital structure, we'll announce it in a very open way as we usually do."


Prokhorov had not been at Barclays Center since Nov. 5. This is just the third game he has attended this season. He will also attend Friday night's game against the Washington Wizards in Brooklyn. At the beginning of the season, he had promised to attend 25 percent of the team's regular-season games.



"Maybe you have heard, but we have had some volatile years in Russian economy, and Russian business," Prokhorov said. "So sanctions were imposed ... and these sanctions, they have created challenges for businessmen in Russia ... and I needed to be more [involved in the handling and] managing my business and my assets, so it was very busy. Now, everything is under control. That's why I hope to see you more in the playoffs."


Prokhorov hired Evercore, an investment banking firm, to explore a sale of the team in January, but decided to part ways with them in March, sources told ESPN's Darren Rovell.


Prokhorov owns 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of Barclays Arena. He bought the Nets in May 2010 for $200 million.


A Forbes report recently suggested Prokhorov was trying to get a $3 billion evaluation for the team and the arena. He said he has had about 10 groups approach him with offers on the minority stake.


During a wide-ranging news conference, Prokhorov also expressed confidence in general manager Billy King and his desire to keep center Brook Lopez.


King will be entering the final year of his contract at season's end, while Lopez can opt out of the final year of his contract worth $16.7 million and become a free agent.


"I like his ability to be bold," Prokhorov said of King, whose win-now moves have cost significant draft picks and yielded just one playoff series win so far. "I think he has done some unexpected deals ... but I'm very comfortable working with him."



As for Lopez, Prokhorov said, "Brook is very important for us and (Nets coach) Lionel told you maybe 20 times that we do want him back. And that's up to Brook to decide. We need him. I think the Brooklyn Nets are his home."


The Nets (35-41) have won 11 of their past 14 games, and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA.


"I like much more what I see over the last three weeks," Prokhorov quipped, noting that he has been following the team on a daily basis from Russia.


Prokhorov says he is committed to building a championship team, regardless of money. The Nets could end up facing the dreaded repeater tax in 2015-16 depending how things shake out.


When he first took ownership of the Nets, Prokhorov promised a title by 2015. Things haven't worked out the way he hoped they would, however.


"My goal is the same and I am very committed to the team. I'll do my best in order just to find the opportunity to reach our common goal," he said. "If you analyze a championship team, 20 percent of it is draft picks and 80 percent of it is trades. So now we have young talent and I'm sure our front office is good enough and has a great eye to find some talent in order to improve our team if we need it."


Prokhorov was asked if he'd do anything differently.


"You know, it's a very philosophic question. I was asked a lot of questions like this in many other businesses," he said. "If you regretted paying higher salary tax and other questions like this ... I'm very committed to the team. I'll continue to do and to find all the best I can get for the team, but the sport is unpredictable. And any kind of sport is unpredictable, particularly basketball. As [singer] Robbie Williams says, 'No regrets, they don't work.'"


Prokhorov also praised first-year coach Lionel Hollins, pointing to when Holllins ultimately decided that Andrei Kirilenko didn't fit the team's system and needed to be traded.


"I like his style," Prokhorov said of Hollins. "He's tough and he's demanding. He has his own system and I respect his approach to basketball."


Prokhorov has invested a ton of money into the Nets. Last season, they spent an NBA-record $90.57 million in luxury taxes. But this season, they are on pace to spend around $20 million in luxury taxes.


A Grantland report had the Nets losing $144 million in basketball-related business in 2013-14.


Blockbuster trades for Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce cost the Nets significant assets. They do not have total control over one of their future first-round picks until 2019.


But they have picked up their play recently -- despite Lopez, Williams and Johnson all being on the trade block -- and King's trade of Thaddeus Young for Garnett at the trade deadline has proved to be a good one.


"So I saw the potential of our team and playing at a first-rate level," Prokhorov said. "And I think for the last few months we have seen how the team could play if the team was together.


"We have had issues of inconsistency and I think this is a function of our new coach, new players and some injuries. And my hope for the time being that we have the capability of playing at a high level and of course our team has the talent."






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