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Report: Mikhail Prokhorov considering selling Nets

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov speaks to the

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov speaks to the media before an NBA game between with Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Barclays Center on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is exploring a sale of the team, reported Tuesday, a notion a spokeswoman for the Russian multibillionaire sought to downplay.

"As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers -- that's just good business,'' Ellen Pinchuk wrote in a statement. "There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team.''

Still, Bloomberg reported that Prokhorov has retained Evercore Partners to sell the team, citing two people with direct knowledge of his plans.

The Nets declined to comment.

Prokhorov owns 80 percent of the team. He paid $223 million to become the Nets' majority owner in May 2010.

The Russian economy -- and the ruble -- has taken a beating in recent months amid falling oil prices and Western sanctions against the country.

Prokhorov also owns 45 percent of Barclays Center; Bloomberg reported that his stake in the arena is not for sale.

It is difficult to assess NBA franchise values in the wake of the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last year for $2 billion. The Nets presumably are worth well more than $1 billion, given their location in New York and their television deal with YES.

The Atlanta Hawks are for sale, a price that will help clarify the market, post-Clippers sale.

This is not the first time Prokhorov has been reported to be exploring selling at least part of the Nets. Yahoo Sports reported in June that Prokhorov was listening to potential offers. Prokhorov denied he was interested in selling the team. Another report surfaced in October that Prokhorov was in ongoing discussions to potentially combine assets with the group that co-owns the Los Angeles Dodgers with Magic Johnson, but not to sell the team.

The Wall Street Journal reported last April that Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner was looking to sell his remaining 20-percent stake in the team.

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