Alibaba founder buys minority stake in Brooklyn Nets

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Under the reported terms, Tsai will have the option to purchase controlling interest in the team in four years.

According to Forbes Magazine's most recent valuations, the team was only worth $1.8 billion. According to the ESPN report, that's part of Tsai's thinking in purchasing the team.

The price tag is $100 million more than the record $2.2 billion Tilman Fertitta paid for the Houston Rockets last month.

The transaction doesn't include the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn arena where the team plays, the people said. That purchase from real estate developer Bruce Ratner's Forest City Enterprises Inc. valued the team at $875 million and the building at $825 million, including debt.

They finished with the NBA's worst record previous year at 20-62, but have won three of their first five games this season, including a win over the Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers.

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The Nets' local revenue was a league-low $36 million last season, and the team earns only $20 million from its local television contract with YES. The record price for an National Basketball Association franchise was recently set by the Houston Rockets, who were sold by Leslie Alexander to Tilman Fertitta for $2.2 billion earlier this month.

The Nets never did become title contenders, but those deals would hamstring the team for years.

Tsai has been pleased with how Nets general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson are running the team, and plans to bring global business opportunities to the franchise through his connections throughout Asia, per the report.

That's likely to be the only title Prokhorov wins as owner of the Nets.