EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Mikhail Prokhorov is interested in hearing from potential buyers for the Brooklyn Nets, but a spokesperson for the Russian billionaire said Tuesday no sale is imminent.
"As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers — that's just good business," Ellen Pinchuk said in a statement. "There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team."
That came in response to a report earlier Tuesday from Bloomberg News, citing two people with direct knowledge of the matter, that Prokhorov had retained Evercore Partners to sell the team.
Prokhorov bought 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2010. He said earlier this season he was willing to listen to offers for a minority share of the club but wouldn't sell his majority stake.
He had set a goal of winning a championship within five years, but the Nets have gotten nowhere close despite the NBA's highest payroll. They are 16-22 this season, losers of six straight, a season after ESPN.com reported that the Nets' basketball operations department lost $144 million.
Prokhorov downplayed those losses when he last met with reporters before the Nets' home opener in November. But he would have little problem making all of it back and more if he did sell at a time when franchise values are soaring, topped by the $2 billion Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers last summer.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he had just returned from a family vacation and didn't know what was happening with the Nets, but that owning an NBA team was difficult.
"It could be the ruble, it could be political issues (in Russia)," he said in Sacramento before the Mavericks played the Kings.
"But it's tough and it's not an easy business. We all come in making promises of what we are going to do. Well, it took me 12 years to do what I said I was going to do," Cuban added. "It's just not easy and sometimes it gets frustrating."
Associated Press writer Antonio Harvey in Sacramento, California, contributed to this report.