Alibaba’s Joe Tsai Purchasing 49% of Brooklyn Nets with Future Option to Become Owner; How It Impacts Jeremy Lin

Joseph Tsai, a co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has agreed to purchase 49% of Brooklyn Nets, which is based on a $2.3 billion valuation of the team. The deal includes the option to become majority owner after four years. During that time, Mikhail Prokhorov will remain principal and operating owner of the Nets.The deal excludes the ownership of Barclays Center, which is still owned by Prokhorov.  It’s expected that a new long-term lease for the Nets will be negotiated soon, league sources said.

Joseph Tsai agrees to purchase 49 percent minority stake in Nets, sources say, by Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe:

Joseph Tsai, the executive vice chairman and co-founder of Chinese e-commerce goliath Alibaba, has reached an agreement in principle to purchase a 49 percent minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets that includes the option to acquire controlling interest of the NBA franchise in 2021, league sources told ESPN.

The purchase price will be based on a $2.3 billion valuation of the team, league sources said. The sales price of $2.3 billion eclipses the NBA-record $2.2 billion that Tilman Fertitta recently paid to purchase the Houston Rockets.

Mikhail Prokhorov will remain principal and operating owner of the Nets for an additional four years, with a presumption that he will sell his majority stake upon the triggering of Tsai’s option, league sources said.

Who Is Joseph Tsai?

Tsai, 53, is a U.S.-educated investor who holds both Taiwanese and Canadian citizenship.

Tsai’s Ownership Potential Impact to Jeremy Lin

In the ESPN article, Tsai expressed enthusiasm over the direction of the franchise by general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson. If he has followed the Nets direction for a while, Tsai must be fully aware that one of Kenny Atkinson’s first moves as a coach is to request Sean Marks to sign Jeremy Lin. Combined with Jeremy Lin’s popularity in China, reportedly voted the third most popular NBA player online after Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry,

Tsai has expressed enthusiasm over the direction of the franchise with general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson, sources said, and ultimately plans to work on bridging his strong Asian business ties into global business opportunities for the Nets.

Jeremy Lin’s Popularity in China Supports Tsai’s Business Goal

Jeremy Lin’s popularity in Taiwan and China  will bode well to support Tsai’s second goal to leverage strong Asian business ties into global business opportunities for the Nets. Mailman, a digital sports marketing company in China, released its 2017 NBA “Red Card report.” Lin ranks 3rd as the most popular NBA player online just behind Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry in popularity, based on social media. Bryant was the big winner in the competition, according to the Mailman calculation. He garnered 119 points, ahead of Curry (103), Lin (99), Dwayne Wade (86) and ex-Net Stephon Marbury (76) who played in China.

The report assessed and calculated the players’ Weibo followers, engagement and follower growth, Baidu (operator of China’s largest online search engine), Weibo mentions, and Chinese website presence.

Tsai-Lin Connection
  • Does Joe Tsai know Jeremy Lin well? With the preparation to understand the Nets basketball direction by Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson, the Ivy League connection (Yale and Harvard), Taiwan ties, his investment in run by Jeremy’s old roommate in Harvard, it is probably safe to say that Tsai is very familiar with Jeremy Lin. It is unknown if they have ever met in person.
  • Will Tsai’s ownership translate into a long-term deal with Jeremy Lin who will enter his 3rd year of his contract next year in 2018-19? With Jeremy Lin’s popularity in Asia, it might be mutualy beneficial to extend the partnership between Jeremy Lin and Brooklyn Nets with another contract and even beyond his NBA playing career. In the future, he can be involved in the Nets coaching or the Nets front office with his Harvard Economics degree. Although Tsai will not have a chance to become the majority owner before 4 years, he will be able to provide influence and direction if they will resign Jeremy Lin as an NBA player.
  • With Jeremy Lin to be sidelined in 1.5 out of his first 2 seasons due to injuries, his long-term future with the Nets is uncertain although Sean Marks has expressed desire to see Jeremy Lin back on court for the Nets next season. There is always a possibility that he might get traded in a salary dump scenario to free up salary cap but a new billionaire owner with Taiwan and China ties and ability to leverage Jeremy Lin’s popularity in Asia might increase his chance to stay as a Nets beyond 2018-19 season.


A Nets player, an assistant coach, or even an assistant general manager? Noone knows the future but all are within the realm of possibilities for Jeremy Lin.