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NBA AM: Are the Nets Going to Be Sold?

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says he’s listening to offers, but isn’t interested in selling the Nets entirely… As the Thunder continue to lose players, the NBA could grant them a hardship exemption to add another guy.

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Prokhorov Holds Court:  Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov held court with the media for the first time in almost 10 months on Monday, hitting on a number of subjects including the departure of Jason Kidd as his head coach, his future as the owner and why the team made the big blockbuster trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, admitting it was as much marketing as it was basketball.

“I think we did a very good deal, and it was a great investment in the Brooklyn brand,” Prokhorov said to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “So I think you know that for me it was very important to invest some money to make the team better, and to invest some money in Brooklyn Nets brand. Because as soon as we moved to New York, it was a great lift for us, from a business point of view, but of course you have to invest to be like the top teams of the NBA. But if you look on the market cap, I think my investment’s minimum five, six times now more than I spent. So I have a nice get.”

Prokhorov was asked about the rumors of a power play by Kidd and his ultimate departure for Milwaukee.

“I think there is a nice proverb in English,” Prokhorov said. “Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

“I think we shouldn’t get mad, I think we should get even.”

Prokhorov said he was pleased with his new coach Lionel Hollins.

“I think Lionel Hollins is a no frills kind of guy. Like a meat-and-potato coach with a great reputation,” Prokhorov said. “And what I like is all the players really respect him.”

There have been numerous reports suggesting that Prokhorov might be looking to cash out his interest in the team, something he was quick to put into perspective.

“My position is that I will not give up control of the team,” Prokhorov said. “But you know, I am quite happy when somebody sending me a nice offer without taking my control of team. I think, for the time being, nothing is imminent, but still I think it’s not bad just to listen.

“We have a lot of proposals to buy minority shares but it’s my desire to just listen.”

According to Forbes magazine’s latest NBA franchise valuations, the Nets are said to be worth $780 million, which is a sizable bump from the reported $200 million he put into the team in 2009.

While Forbes’ valuations are often criticized as being massively too low, they are the baseline most commonly referenced.

It’s believed that with the NBA’s new $24 billion broadcast rights deal signed and secured, major-market teams like the Nets could see their valuation swell to something close to what Steve Ballmer paid for the L.A. Clippers – somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion.

Prokhorov has been talking with a number of groups, so while the Russian multi-billionaire says he wants to retain control, the right sales price could change that.

The Thunder’s Injuries Keep Piling Up:  The NBA has a caveat to help teams overcome rampant and compiling injuries in the form of a hardship exemption. The Oklahoma City Thunder has applied for one, after almost half their roster has come down with some kind of injury.

The biggest injuries have been Kevin Durant’s broken foot and Russell Westbrook’s broken hand. They’ve also lost Anthony Morrow indefinitely with a knee injury, Grant Jerrett with a foot injury, Jeremy Lamb with a back injury and Mitch McGary with a broken foot. Last night, Andre Roberson suffered a foot injury and Perry Jones III injured his knee at one point but played through the pain.

The challenge for the Thunder in gaining the exemption is that the NBA may deem some of the injuries as day to day. If it’s deemed by the league that Durant, Westbrook, McGary and Morrow are going to be out for a significant amount of time, the Thunder could add a 16th player.

Early word is the Thunder has reached out to guards like Ish Smith, who was recently released from Houston, and has tested the waters on Gal Mekel, who was released by Dallas. Some other notable names on the Thunder radar include John Lucas III, Michael Jenkins and Diante Garrett.

The problem with adding a 16th player is that as guys get healthy, someone on the roster would have to be cut. That’s problematic for someone like Smith or Mekel, who are looking at situations for the balance of the season. Sources say both would want assurances that the roster spot they agree to take would potentially be theirs for the foreseeable future.

The Thunder had nine players log minutes last night versus the Brooklyn Nets. Roberson left the game early with a foot injury and early reports had him missing at least one game, so there is a scenario in which the Thunder might only have eight healthy players for their game against Toronto tonight.

The NBA is expected to announce its decision at some point in the next 24 hours and the Thunder could have a new face in mix as early as Wednesday.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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