EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov is probably going to have to wait a little longer before becoming the new owner of the New Jersey Nets.
The NBA announced on Thursday that its board of governors probably won't vote next week on whether to approve Prokhorov's deal to buy the Nets because the state of New York has not taken over all the land seized under eminent domain at the site of the team's Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"The Board will vote on Mr. Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site, which the team expects to occur in the near future," said Joel Litvin the NBA's president of league and basketball operations.
Litvin said the site possession is the only factor affecting the timing of the vote.
"The documentation of the Nets' purchase and the background investigation of Mr. Prokhorov have been complete for some time," Litvin said.
Prokhorov agreed last December to buy 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the new arena from Bruce Ratner's Forest City Ratner Cos.
The Nets have endured a dreadful season, posting an 11-67 mark with four games left in the regular season, clinching at least a tie for the worst record in the league this season. For months, the team threatened to break the NBA mark for fewest wins (nine) in a season, set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.
The Nets have a chance to improve greatly in the offseason, having at least $23 million in salary cap room to spend on a free agent group that might include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Rudy Gay.
New York officials had a ceremonial groundbreaking last month on a much-delayed 22-acre, $4.9 billion development project, which includes the new arena and 16 residential and office buildings.
The 18,000-seat arena is to open in 2012. Construction on the other projects will begin in 2011.
The delays were caused by lawsuits filed by residents fighting the use of eminent domain.
Supporters say Atlantic Yards will provide jobs and economic development.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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