MOSCOW, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is part of one of four groups interested in buying the New Jersey Nets basketball team, Sports Illustrated reported on Friday on its website.
SI said a highly placed National Basketball Association source predicted that Prokhorov - Russia's richest man according to this year's Forbes list - would get through the league's vetting process for prospective owners.
The Sports.ru website said that the businessman's Onexim group had denied having plans to buy the Nets.
"Mikhail Prokhorov has not made any plans to purchase this club nor held any negotiations," Igor Petrov was quoted as saying.
The 2.06-meter (6-foot-9) Prokhorov is known to be a big basketball fan, and as a major shareholder in Norilsk Nickel funded the Euroleague champions CSKA Moscow, before selling his stake in the metals giant last year.
He has long been interested in buying an NBA franchise, and has entered into preliminary negotiations with several teams, Sports.ru reported.
"Prokhorov would prefer to acquire a team, firstly, on the East Coast, where it's easier for him to fly, and secondly, in a city where there are Russians," the website quoted a source as saying. "New Jersey fits this plan perfectly: it is virtually in New York, and soon will be right in New York - the team plans to move to Brooklyn."