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On WFAN: Brooklyn delay fosters rumor of Nets sale and move to Newark

Yesterday on sports talk radio WFAN, Mike Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo had as one guest New Jersey Nets President Rod Thorn. Near the very end of the conversation, they brought up a new angle on the Nets-to-Newark option--a team sale, rather than a move under the existing ownership.

Newark remains an obvious option as an interim home under current management, given that the new Prudential Center opened last fall and the Barclays Center has yet to break ground. While such a rumor about a sale may be circulating among some in the sports world, I can't say I've heard it before.

Thorn responded with homespun aplomb, maintaining October 2010 as the target date for the Brooklyn move, even though 2011 is likely the best-case scenario.

Nets brass have a pattern of overpredicting the arena opening date. Brett Yormark, President & CEO, Nets Sports and Entertainment, last September confidently asserted on WFAN that the arena would be open for the 2009-10 season.

More agnostically, Newsday NBA writer Ken Berger suggested yesterday the move could be "2010 or 2011 or sometime in the future. (Maybe.)"

The exchange

CR: And Rod, Mike and I were discussing it, what is going on with this arena? I mean, it's been delayed, we haven't heard anything about it. Are the Nets still thinking full force ahead to Brooklyn? Can New Jersey and Newark and the Prudential be in the mix? What's going on for the arena for the Nets here down the road?

RT: We're, y'know, it's full bore ahead. We expect to be in Brooklyn start of the 2010 season, and--

Russo wasn't convinced.

CR: --How about shovels in the ground, Rod, when are we going to see that?

RT: Well, shovels aren't in the ground yet, Chris.

Thorn chuckled a bit, as if recognizing that he couldn't bluff too far.

MF: How about these rumors that someone could buy the team and put it in Newark, we've been hearing those rumblings.

RT: Y'know something, Mike, if that's true, then I don't know anything about it.

Even though the Nets are losing money, I suspect that the promise of the Barclays Center naming rights deal, as well as the Atlantic Yards project as a whole, means the Nets aren't for sale. I also suspect that any rumors out there quickly find their way to Thorn.

More commentary

Meanwhile, as predicted, the Nets page on the Atlantic Yards web site has been updated. The page as of Sunday is above, while the page as of yesterday is below, with Vince Carter up top, replacing the Carter/Kidd/Richard Jefferson/Nenad Krstic panorama, and Jefferson replacing Kidd in the right column. A bit like... checkers.

In the Times today, sports columnist William C. Rhoden cites Nets coach Lawrence Frank's comparison to a failed marriage, and disagrees:
I’m not sure I buy that. Marriage, ideally, is a rain-or-shine, till-death-do-us-part commitment. Professional sports is a different animal: owners move coaches like checkers, coaches run out on teams, players who are in position to do so use their talent as leverage to get rid of an undesirable coach or change undesirable circumstances.

NoLandGrab collects some Kidd links; here's Filip Bondy of the Daily News:
Ratner should be very thankful these days for James Dolan, who has stolen all of the owner's bad thunder. Without the Knicks to kick around, area fans might notice that Ratner's plans for Brooklyn continue to stall, that he has turned his back on Newark and that he has locked himself into a morgue-like location where no self-respecting superstar would ever want to dunk basketballs for long.


  1. Here's the way I see this going down. For the 2011 scenario to happen, ground would have to be broken on the Barclays Center by the end of the year. If not, then, pretty much for all intents and purposes, the Nets to Brooklyn is dead in the water.

    Jeff Vanderbeek, the NJ Devils Owner is, to be sure, watching the developments very closely, behind the scenes, if a sale were to happen, my guess would be he would gladly buy and move them to the Prudential Center in a heartbeat if the Nets were to be put on the market. The Nets in Newark would sell out every night.

    This is something to watch here, the next few months will be very interesting to say the least.

  2. They have an option to extend their lease at the Meadowlands through the 2012-13 season.


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