Rather, the sale is contingent on the move to Brooklyn, which certainly makes sense. Should a new arena be built, there would be new revenues and the value of the team would go up. I just thought the [added: increasing talk about a] sale would happen closer to the opening of the new arena.
Sale allowed by state
A clause in the Empire State Development Corporation's General Project Plan, as I wrote in December 2006, states, in part:
In addition, in the event the Nets professional basketball franchise is sold to another entity prior to the completion of the Arena, Project Sponsors may transfer their interest in the Arena to the purchasing entity or its affiliate, provided ESDC and the City are reasonably satisfied that such entity can satisfactorily complete the development of the Arena or if such entity retains the Project Sponsors to develop the Arena.
The potential owners include minority owner and native Brooklynite Vinny Viola (profile via NetsDaily's Net Income/Bobbo) but also a group headed by the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov owns Euroleague champion CSKA Moscow. And there are two other potential groups.
The salary dump
The potential sale of the Nets helps to explain the big move they made on draft day. They unloaded Vince Carter's remaining three years and $51 million to Orlando in exchange for three players, among whom only Courtney Lee will remain on the Nets' payroll in 2010-11 at a low rookie-scale salary of $1.4 million. Their payroll going into that season couldn't be more sparse, and they still have a 26-year-old All-Star point guard in Devin Harris. Coach Lawrence Frank will also be in the final year of his contract this season.
The Nets have long been rumored to be on the market. If a team is to be sold, then this often is how it's done: Remove as much furniture as possible so the new owner can remodel the place to his liking.