Billionaire Joseph Tsai is close to a deal that will make him the sole owner of the Nets, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
Tsai, 55, already owns 49 percent of the team, which he bought for $1 billion last year. According to the Post, he is buying the remaining 51 percent from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov for $1.35 billion. In total, Tsai will have paid $2.35 billion for the NBA team.
Tsai’s deal for the Nets would be the largest price paid for a sports team in history, surpassing David Tepper’s $2.2 billion purchase of the NFL’s Panthers in 2018 and Tilman Fertitta’s $2.2 billion deal for the NBA’s Rockets in 2017.
Tsai, who is the co-founder of Alibaba, the mammoth Chinese ecommerce company, is expected to have full ownership of the team before the 2020-21 season.
Last season, the Nets finished with a 42–40 record but have renewed hype because of huge offseason acquisitions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant signed a four-year, $164 million deal with the team, while Irving signed a four-year, $141 million deal.
With those high-profile free agent signings, Nets attendance is expected to jump, along with overall revenue.
There were reports earlier this year that Tsai also is trying to buy the Nets’ arena, Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
A native of Taiwan, Tsai is worth an estimated $9.9 billion after he co-founded Alibaba, the Chinese equivalent to Amazon. He also owns the San Diego Seals, a box lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League.