The NBA might step in and purchase the New Orleans Hornets until a permanent owner can be found. There is a preference for an owner that would keep the team in New Orleans. George Shinn, the teams’ majority owner, was in negotiations to sell to the teams’ co-owner Gary Chouest, who owns 35% of the team, since last spring.
Gary withdrew his offer to purchase Shinn’s majority share of the franchise on Friday over concerns of a possible lockout next season coupled with the fact he’s unsure he can devote the time needed to run an NBA franchise as its sole owner and operate his private business. It’s not clear if Chouest would keep his percentage of the club if the NBA took over.
His company, a global marine service company Edison Chouest Offshore, was hit hard by the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf after the BP oil spill. Shin made the decision to sell the team after he was diagnosed and successfully treated last year for prostate cancer. After that experience, he felt it was time to move on from NBA ownership and instead focus on efforts to combat cancer.
Attendance for Hornets games has been lower than hoped. Despite a 13-6 start, through 10 home games, average attendance has been 13,865. The Hornets have the right to break their lease at the New Orleans Arena after this season if average attendance falls below 14,735 during a two-year period. Their lease is contractually up in 2014.
This is an interesting scenario. Should the NBA step in, it would be the 1st time the league has owned and operated a team. David Stern mentioned the possibility of contraction at the start of the season. Could the Hornets become a victim of that? Or is the idea of the NBA running a franchise a way to figure out a new model for the league and its future development?
No wonder Chris Paul wanted to move on.