Prokhorov agrees to sell Nets, Barclays to Tsai

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has officially agreed to sell his remaining stake in the Brooklyn Nets and full ownership of Barclays Center to Joe Tsai, the team announced Friday.

Tsai, who paid $1 billion for a 49% share of the Nets in 2018, is paying an additional $1.35 billion for the remaining 51% share, sources confirmed to ESPN earlier in the week. In addition, Tsai will pay nearly $1 billion in a separate deal for Barclays Center, a source told The Associated Press.

This purchase by Tsai, the co-founder of Alibaba, one of the world's largest e-commerce companies, still needs approval from the NBA's board of governors, which already approved the first transaction.

A statement from the Nets said the transaction should be finalized by the end of September, and Brett Yormark, who has served as CEO of the Nets since 2005, will step down from his post after overseeing the transition to new ownership.

"I've had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago," Tsai said in the statement. "He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank. I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail's vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful."

Prokhorov bought the Nets from real estate developer Bruce Ratner in 2010, allowing the team to complete its move into Brooklyn and Barclays Center in 2012.

"It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal," Prokhorov said in the statement. "The team is in a better place today than ever before, and I know that Joe will build on that success while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees and colleagues in the industry enjoy."

The $2.35 billion total value of the deal for the team, not including the arena, makes it the largest purchase price for an American professional sports team, surpassing the $2.2 billion paid by David Tepper to buy theCarolina Panthersand by Tilman Fertitta to buy the Houston Rockets.

Former Turner Sports executive David Levy has emerged as a serious candidate to replace Yormark, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Yormark came to the Nets from NASCAR and helped usher the franchise to Brooklyn from its prior homes in East Rutherford and Newark, New Jersey. After coming aboard under Ratner, Yormark stayed in his post during Prokhorov's ownership over the past nine years.

"Without Brett's innovative foresight and leadership, we would not be where we are today with the Nets and Barclays Center," Prokhorov said. "Brett had always made it clear to me that when the arena and team sold, he would move on and begin his next journey. Thank you to Brett, who has been a true partner and friend over the past 15 years."

The team spent big early in Prokhorov's tenure, racking up a record luxury tax bill in 2013-14 before retrenching in recent seasons after the failure of the trade with the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013. This summer, the team made a huge splash in free agency, signing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.

Earlier this year, an investment group led by Tsai purchased the WNBA's New York Liberty from James Dolan.

ESPN's Tim Bontemps and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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