NBA Commissioner David Stern made it official today: the NBA will indeed move ahead with a purchase of the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn and Gary Chouest, giving the league power over where the team ends up.
No word on what the NBA is paying (though Stern did say the franchise is worth $300 million or so), but the rest of what we posted yesterday was confirmed: Jac Sperling of the Minnesota Wild has been working on the purchase and will try to find a buyer, with the emphasis being on a local one.
Still, the idea that the NBA will be better at finding a local buyer than Shinn was isn’t very believable. A new collective bargaining agreement is expected to drive up the value of the franchise, and if a local buyer can’t be found, the NBA is expected to look to potential owners from other cities. That means Seattle, Kansas City, Las Vegas or Anaheim might as well be considered as a potential home for the team; there’s also buzz that Chicago might be a contender. Don’t be surprised: there are many in NBA circles who say the city is capable of supporting a second team, especially one located out in the suburbs. (Indeed, the Orlando Magic once asked the league for permission to explore a Chicago move before funding for a new arena came through.)
Still, for now, the official Stern line is that all local options must be explored. So for now we’ll hold off on relocation fever.
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