Posted by Matt Moore
In a lengthy interview with ESPN.com on Bill Simmons' podcast, David Stern today stated that there are owners in the NBA who "might share the view" that they should contract the Hornets.
"I know that there are some owners who might share that view (that the Hornets should be contracted). But anything that we do gets done by the majority of the owners. All you're stating is a potential third option. But right now we are steaming full-speed ahead with every single possible way to make that team succesful in New Orleans, and I think we're going to succeed. We're going to make it unattractive to move it or contract it."
Stern, as usual, cloaks his statement in laywer-speak of the highest craft. The phrase "some owners who might share that view." Is that not the most slippery structure possible?
The revelation is nothing too surprising. Contraction talk has been floating for months. And with the owners now invested in a team that has not shown the capacity to keep itself afloat financially in its current market, there are going to be rumblings, particularly from the larger markets who won't want to support a losing asset in the face of the current economy.
But Stern makes the point that the owners have already made the decision to invest roughly $10 million each in the team. Contraction would mean losing the vast majority of that investment. You're not going to be able to liquidate tangible assets for an NBA team and recoup any significant amount of money. Why would they elect to just lose out on that money? At the same time, Stern also says the primary reason the league elected to step in and purchase the team wasn't a lack of buyers, but a lack of buyers that would keep the team in New Orleans. If the league is secretly planning to move the Hornets, they're going deep, deep underground with the plot.
The question of New Orleans as a viable market will continue until the ownership situation stabilizes. The question is: when's that going to be?