Joseph Tsai
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Taiwan-born billionaire and minority owner Joseph Tsai is close to purchasing the remaining 51% of the Brooklyn Nets from Mikhail Prokhorov.

The Brooklyn Nets appear to be on the verge of landing another marquee name.

Minority owner Joseph Tsai is set to purchase the remaining portion of the squad, according to reports from Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Tsai, 55, purchased a 49% stake in the team for $1 billion last year. He is now reportedly closing in on a deal to buy the entirety from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Last year’s deal gave Tsai buying rights for $1.35 billion in 2021, but it appears he is enacting his rights two years early.

The co-founder and executive vice-chairman of Alibaba Group (a Chinese retail conglomerate) was rumored to be purchasing Barclays Center (the Nets’ Brooklyn arena) and Nassau Coliseum last spring. Both buildings are owned by Prokhorov’s Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. Such purchases would increase the likelihood of the NBA Board of Governors approving the Nets transaction.

The full purchase of the Nets will cost Tsai $2.35 million. Should that number hold, it would break the $2.2 million record sale for a sports franchise set by the Carolina Panthers (2018) and Houston Rockets (2017).

Tsai was previously involved in the aforementioned purchase of the Panthers, but the bid led by businessman Michael G. Rubin fell through. His purchase would end the ownership tenure of Prokhorov. The Moscow native previously bought the Nets, based in New Jersey at the time, from real estate developer Bruce Ratner in 2010.

Tsai’s other athletic endeavors in Brooklyn include the WNBA’s New York Liberty. The team was sold to Tsai by the Madison Square Garden Company in January. While the team continues to play a majority of its home games at Westchester County Center, discussions have been held to move the team into either Barclays Center, Nassau Coliseum, or both.

The former hosted its first Liberty regular-season game on Sunday afternoon, as 7,715 witnessed the locals take on the defending champion Seattle Storm. Just over 4,000 previously watched the Liberty defeat the Chinese national team in a May exhibition.

Both the Brooklyn and Long Island arenas also host the NHL’s New York Islanders and are set to do so until that squad’s new arena in Belmont is slated to open in 2021. The Coliseum also hosts the Nets’ G-League affiliate on Long Island.

Tsai’s potential purchase comes at an intriguing point on the Nets timeline. The team made the playoffs four times in nine seasons on Prokhorov’s watch, winning just one series. Now, however, Brooklyn basketball has high hopes after signing NBA superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The Nets made their first playoff appearance in four seasons last year, falling to Philadelphia in five games. The team was led by breakout efforts from several young players, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, and Joe Harris. In the release of the 2019-20 NBA schedule this week, Brooklyn was revealed to have a dozen games on either ESPN or TNT. They had a mere single showing during last year’s release.

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