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Ownership Shakeup May Await Nets

April 26, 1996

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ The New Jersey Nets are either going to be sold or the current seven-man ownership will be reorganized within the next few days, a source told The Associated Press.

NBA commissioner David Stern is pressing the owners to make a decision on a month-old offer by New Jersey Devils owner John McMullen to buy the team for an estimated $90 million to $96 million. The offer reportedly has been increased once.

``The commissioner has said, `Let’s get some things done,′ and he has been assured it would be done in the next 48 hours,″ the source said. Today ``has that 48 hours in it. I’m expecting things to happen ...″

Arthur Goldberg, the chief executive of Bally Entertainment Corp., also expressed an interest in buying the team, although he has not made a formal offer.

``I wouldn’t speculate on what’s going on tonight or tomorrow,″ the source said Thursday of McMullen’s offer. ``My guess is they are having a reconsideration of the sale and a desire to reorganize.″

The source said the scenarios of what owners might be in or out has changed from day to day this week.

``There’s a potential for a new owner coming in and a couple going out,″ the source said. ``It’s been changing. However, if the Nets aren’t sold by the weekend, there will be literally either new faces or less faces. There will be a change.″

The source said the owners have not entertained any offers other than the one by McMullen, and they are lagging on that one.

``They have not completed or consummated or voted yet on the McMullen thing, and they haven’t encouraged the other suitors to move up in line,″ the source said. ``I don’t know what they are doing. It’s sort of in limbo.″

David Gerstein, one of the Nets’ seven owners, reportedly is opposed to the sale of the team. The club’s vice chairman and treasurer, he owns 26 percent of the team and reportedly is planning to put together a group to buy out some of the other owners.

Alan Aufzien and Jerry Cohen are the other majority owners, while the rest of the team is divided among four minority owners.

While the owners considered the offer, the Nets’ front office was working to find a new coach to replace Butch Beard, who was fired Monday after two straight seasons with 30-52 records.

``The list of prospective coaches is over 20 now,″ the source said. ``It’s huge, mostly NBA people.″

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