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Tag:New Orleans Hornets
Posted on: December 6, 2010 4:29 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 4:45 pm
 

The NBA officially has purchased the Hornets

Posted by Royce Young

It's official: The NBA now owns the New Orleans Hornets.

NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Monday that the NBA is proceeding with the purchase of the New Orleans Hornets, following Gary Chouest’s decision not to proceed with the acquisition of the interest of majority owner George Shinn.  The transaction is subject to a vote by the NBA’s Board of Governors, which will likely occur next week.

Stern, in a press release said, “George Shinn has been an exceptional owner for New Orleans and Gary Chouest has been extraordinarily supportive as a minority owner. However, in light of the uncertain economic situation in New Orleans and Louisiana, Gary has decided not to move forward with the purchase of George’s majority interest although he was prepared to remain an investor in the team. In the absence of any viable purchaser seeking to own the Hornets in New Orleans, I recommended to the NBA Board of Governors that the best way to assure stability and the adequate funding of the franchise would be for the league to step in, and complete the transaction and assume control."

The franchise was valued at around $300 million and that's the ballpark in which the league paid, according to Stern in a teleconference.

The league has been dedicated to the franchise since Hurricane Katrina. Following a two-year stint in Oklahoma City, many thought it would be best for the franchise to remain there because of the issues in New Orleans. Instead, the NBA and Stern committed themselves to keeping the team in New Orleans, despite there being buyers ready to purchase the team from Shinn (current Thunder owner Clay Bennett being one).

Obviously the league doesn't want to control the Hornets for long, so as soon as a suitable purchaser steps up, the team will likely be sold. Whether that's someone from out of town or someone that wants to try and keep the Hornets in New Orleans is to be seen. But no franchise is more of a prime candidate to be moved than the Hornets right now because of a clause in their lease agreement that lets them out if attendance figures aren't met. And right now, those numbers are way off.

According to Shinn, “When we were unable to complete the transaction with Gary, I suggested to the Commissioner that the league consider the purchase of the Hornets.  I wanted to ensure that the team remained in New Orleans, if that was possible, and recognized that the league could provide the necessary funding while a new owner was sought in New Orleans and negotiations with the city and the state could continue.”

Chouest said, “New Orleans owes a debt of gratitude to George for bringing NBA basketball back to the city. I have greatly enjoyed the experience with the Hornets and, of course, will continue to support the team.”

The league has recruited Jac Sperling, a sports executive and New Orleans native, to be the team’s chairman and governor, with Hugh Weber serving as president and alternate governor. Sperling – who founded Grit Rock Ventures, LLC, an investment company focused on sports, media and entertainment business, and is Vice Chairman of Minnesota Sports and Entertainment (MSE), the parent company of the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild – will bring his more than 20 years of sports-industry experience to the operation of the Hornets.

Despite the spin from the statements, this is a serious situation for professional basketball in New Orleans. The team may be winning, but the franchise is losing, in a big way.
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 6, 2010 1:21 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 1:50 pm
 

The Hornets' potential relocation future examined

Should the Hornets not remain in New Orleans, where might they end up? We look at the options.  Posted by Matt Moore


With the NBA expected to take hold of the New Orleans Hornets without a locked on buyer in place, the next question will come immediately. What if a non-NOLA buyer comes through with the best offer? It's the money of the league and the owners that's being invested in removing George Shinn once and for all from the ranks of NBA ownership (see ya, George, don't let the luxury tax hit you on the way out), and the league will have a responsibility to both pursue and accept the best offer available. Should that offer come from someone outside the greater New Orleans area, it's entirely possible that the Hornets could be playing somewhere else in the near future. 

We've been down this road before. And while New Orleans lacks the great and storied history of the Sonics franchise, no one wants to see a city that fought back from the greatest natural disaster to hit a major metropolitan area in United States history lose its team. But this isn't about PR or kids with jerseys or history or anything else. It's about money. And other cities not only have incentive to bring in the team, but the most important assets to convince the NBA to abandon New Orleans: the buildings. 

New Orleans arena was built in 1999 for $114 million. It has a capacity of 18,000, 44 luxury suites, and has been described as "bland." It does not receive rave reviews from sponsors, guests, or media. The other cities in play have both newer arenas, as well as arenas fit more ably for modern NBA economics (luxury suites), etc. Others who do not have such arenas have the awesome draw of the almighty large market. 

So who are the prospective scavengers who might be circling while the Hornets continue to fill ... well, kind of fill New Orleans Arena? Here are the names being floated. (All arena information courtesy of Ballparks.com )

Kansas City: Kansas City once had an NBA team, the Kansas City Kings, now the Sacramento Kings, formerly the Cincinnati Kings, formerly the Rochester Royals, and briefly the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. But the team was terrible, management was terrible, and soon the team was off to Sacramento and the welcome bosom of cowbells. Kansas City is most often criticized as being a "college town," "a baseball town," "a football town" (what isn't?) and unable to support three major pro teams. The last of these criticisms ring most true as both the Royals and Chiefs struggle to fill their stadiums to reasonable capacities during down years (or as we Kansas Citizens like to call them, "the last ten years."

The "college town" aspect is a double-edged sword. While it's true that nearby KU and two-hour-neighbor MU hold the town's attention during basketball season, many of their players wind up in the pros. And at its heart, it's easy to argue that KC is a basketball town. It held the Big 12 tournament for years and the Big 8 before that. (And by "before that" I mean "before Texas used its influence to rob any other school in the Big 12 of any influence"). When the Heat and Thunder played a preseason game this fall, a packed house was in place. Then again, that's the Heat. Some towns simply aren't built for the pro game, and that's the argument of some in regards to KC. 

That said, the jewel in their crown is pretty simple. It's the building. Sprint Center, built in 2005 and opened in 2007, has a capacity of 18,555 with a considerably higher number of available luxury suites and club seating due to how the building was constructed. Specifically, the arena was built to capitalize on how current arena economics work. Tickets are valuable, to be sure, but the money is made with sponsorships, and luxury seating. 

What's missing? A buyer. AEG who owns the Sprint Center, made noise early on about pursuing either a hockey or basketball team to fill the arena. But with the Pittsburgh Penguins using them as a straw man to get a new arena in Pittsburgh, there has been no team to arrive. Furthermore, it turns out the arena is making more money as a concert venue than it may with a regular tenant. With the recession having hit Kansas City well before the rest of the country and a lack of progressive technology firms in the area, finding a prospective owner outside of AEG is going to be a hard sell. Kansas City remains a viable candidate but it remains to be seen if either AEG or the city will commit to making a serious inquiry toward the Hornets. 

St. Louis: Two Show-Me cities with an interest in basketball. Many of the same concerns with Kansas City pop up with St. Louis, only their baseball team pretty much guarantees a significant dropoff of attendance right when the playoffs would start. St. Louis has the population, and has the building (the Scottrade Center where the Blues play). 

The talks of St. Louis have never been as discussed as some of the other cities on this list, but with the Hornets being in such a unique position, it's possible a group could develop to push for a new team under the arch. 

Anaheim: Ah, California. Fun, sun, beaches, and lots and lots of sports teams. With the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers turning such a huge profit (despite the Clippers being, well, the Clippers) it's no wonder the NBA would be interested in another California team. Anaheim's done well with the Angels and Ducks, and though the market would no doubt be over-saturated should the Hornets relocate to the nearby neighbor of the City of Angels, the high cost of living would bring ticket prices to a point where profit is a near-given. 

As for the arena? They've already got one in place. The Honda Center, home of the Anaheim Ducks, has a capacity of 17,174, with 84 luxury seats and 1,716 club seats. That's a lot of dough in a place ripe with firms looking to purchase such tickets for clients and as perks. It would make the fifth California team along with the Kings (should the Kings stick around in Sacramento) and Warriors, and the area has been invested in looking for a team for a few years. 

In truth, Anaheim is a low-risk move, but could also backfire if the city simply can't sustain three franchises, regardless of its proximity to LA. Additionally, it's unknown if Jerry Buss, who runs the league about as much as anyone who isn't David Stern, would be amiable to another competitor near his market. He brought in Donald Sterling to own and move the San Diego Clippers, but an outsider honing in on his territory may not go over well, despite the massive, all-encompassing popularity and profitability of the Lakers. 

Las Vegas : Long story short, there's no arena, but they're willing to build one if a team is relocated. It's a PR disaster for the league, but a financial windfall for the owners. While the fanbase is sure to be fickle, every high priced mogul and entertainer would have seats, and good ones, for a high price. Sponsorships would be easier to sell than lemonade in hell, and attracting free agents would be a snap. Nice weather, fun city, profitability, and the draw of having the city all to itself in professional sports? What's stopping them?

They still don't have the building. 

There's a group in place pushing for it who even said they had a team lined up . And petitions are being gathered in order to get a vote before the state legislature, but no word has come if they have received enough. The situation remains in flux. 

Seattle: As tempted as I am to scream "Back of the line!" considering Seattle voters had multiple chances to pressure their representatives to save the Sonics and chose to make their stand against corporate greed in the form of publicly funded arenas for privately held teams, it's hard to argue with the fact that Seattle got outright screwed in the Clay Bennett relocation of the Sonics to Oklahoma City as the Thunder. The fanbase is passionate, it's a large market, renewing basketball there would be seen as a good PR move that could dampen the outrage of taking a team away from the city that survived Katrina, and all that merchandise has already been manufactured with the Sonics logo.

The problem?

You guessed it. They still  don't have the building. Key Arena simply isn't up to snuff, built in 1962. But with a capacity of 17,072, it does hold 58 suites and 1,702 club seats. It can make money, but not nearly in the way some of the other newer arenas can, and renovation costs would be high (hence Bennett's ability to squeeze out). Seattle fans have been clamoring for public officials to finance a new stadium, knowing the presence of an open building would bring a team back like moths to a flame. No dice, so far. 

The biggest thing Seattle has going for it? Rich people. With Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer vocal about the possibility of reacquiring a team, and with enough tech money in the area to finance a new arena in part, Seattle simply has the dough. While Seattle gets off more than it should for its complicity in the relocation of the Sonics, the fans were screwed, and this would go a long way with repairing national damage to the NBA's image in that event. Because moving New Orleans is fine, but Seattle really needs a team, apparently. 

Chicago : This one was brought up by Sports Illustrated  this week and it's an interesting question. Could Chicago support a sixth sports team, and a second basketball team? The Bulls undoubtedly would always be the favorite, the Yankees to the other team's Mets, as it were, but the market is indeed large enough to support a second team. Chicago has some of the best sports fans in the country, and attendance is almost always at stable league measures across sports. There are certainly enough investors to drum up an ownership group if someone was interested in a majority share, and sponsorships wouldn't be an issue, either. 

But what about the building? It already exists. 

The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Kings all occupy the Staples Center. While Staples is newer than Chicago's United Center which currently hosts the Bulls and defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, the United Center is bigger, and you can make the dates work. The question would be if it would make financial sense for the United Center to give up the free nights for eight months of the year (geez the NBA season is long) in exchange for the tenant, and whether logistics costs would skyrocket too much with having to handle the demands of three teams. 

A second Chicago team would satisfy the NBA owners contingent's interest in a stable, big-market location. An at least temporary arena is in place should the team's owners decide they want their own digs in another part of town, and it's hard to see there being no interest in the club given how rabid Chicago sports fans are.  But that's a whole lot of teams in one market, and even New York has not had more than the Knicks in several decades (though they're due for a new neighbor in 2012). It would simultaneously be the easy way out and a bold move for the league to approve and push for a second team in the Windy City. 

New Orleans : If Gary Chouest is out, a new owner in New Orleans is going to have to come out of left field. The fact that the franchise now looks like a garage sale isn't probably going to bring owners out, at least not the ones the NBA would want. But hey, there's a blog of fans looking for investors to make the $17,000 investment so that the city could own the team. Imagine a blog running an NBA team. We're pretty sure that's about three steps from the apocalypse. 

All kidding aside, the NBA is right to pursue local ownership. We saw with Seattle how traumatic losing a team can be. And while Hornets fans certainly don't have the history or passion of those Sonics fans in number, there's no reason they don't have that quality of investment. Kids still love going to Hornets games with their families, and guys still go Hornets games and yell about Emeka Okafor after the game like any city. The right thing to do would be to keep the Hornets in New Orleans. 

The problem is that these days, the right thing to do is almost never the right business decision to make. 

We'll keep you updated as the Hornets' ownership situation develops.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 12:39 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:15 pm
 

The Game Changer: Blake Griffin beasting

Blake Griffin is a game changer, a fight in Portland, big nights for a familiar pair in two different cities, and a lot of questions circling in New Orleans about the future of the HornetsPosted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: BLAKE GRIFFIN IS BEASTING

Normally, when we write in this space about a "game changer," we're talking about a single game. Today, we'll talk Blake Griffin, who is starting to demonstrate on a regular basis that he has the ability to change the entire NBA. Too big, too fast, too bouncy, too agile. He's everything at once, and more. As a rookie, Griffin is averaging 20.6 points and 11.8 assists through the first quarter of the season. He's been coming on as well, putting up 23.6 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists over the last 11 games. That production hasn't translated to many wins for a young Los Angeles Clippers, but there's no question that he's doing his part, throwing down ridiculous dunks, putting on absurd displays of athleticism on a nightly basis and guarding just about anyone his team asks him to, switching out on perimeter players in pick-and-roll situations without a second thought. The pre-game buzz on Sunday in Portland was that there was a potential all star power forward taking the court, and it wasn't LaMarcus Aldridge of the Blazers. Griffin indeed dominated the match-up, putting up 21 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals and just one turnover in 40 minutes of play. Most impressively, he got to the free throw line 16 times, fouling out Aldridge in the process (although he struggled to deliver at the stripe). Aldridge finished with four points, five rebounds, one assist, six fouls and just 2-10 shooting, a relative non-factor in his team's ability to finally end their six-game losing streak.   
Afterwards, Griffin didn't want to hear any all star potential talk, especially after the loss. "I don't know. No," he said in response to whether he's allowed the thought to enter his mind. "I'd much rather be on a winning team. I've got a lot of work to do before I get to that level." All star or not, Griffin is seeing his game progress after missing all of last season with an injury. "[My game] a lot better. I feel like I'm in a rhythm. Some games are better than others obviously. The key is just to limit those bad games and keep improving at the same." He also said his struggles at the free throw line -- he finished 7-16, and bent over while at the stripe, mad at himself -- are a point of emphasis. "It's frustrating whenever you miss free throws like that. The thing is I know I can make them, I've just got to do it." The Clippers dropped the game, but Griffin was glad to see how his teammates handled a chippy second half (video below), which included a flagrant foul 2 for his teammate Brian Cook and numerous technical fouls. "I thought we handled it well. We had guys stick up for our teammates. That's what you like to see. I just think you've got to keep that attitude, you can't let people punk us. I'm not saying that's what Portland was trying to do, but we can't back down from anybody." And really, Blake Griffin backs down from no one, because he's too busy sailing over the top of them.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Let's reunited these two for a night, for old time's sake.

Steve Nash: 20 points, three rebounds, 17 assists, two turnovers on 8-8 shooting in 30 minutes in a home win over the Washington Wizards.
Amar'e Stoudemire: 31 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, one steal, two turnovers on 12-24 shooting in 38 minutes in a road win over the Toronto Raptors. Runner-Up...

Stephen Curry
: 39 points, one rebound, six assists, two steals on 14-20 shooting in 46 minutes in a road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

DON'T MISS:

VIDEO CLIP MADNESS:

Here's a video look at the throwdown in Sunday night's game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Clippers big man Brian Cook shoves Blazers center Joel Przybilla out of the air during a dunk attempt at the rim, causing him to come crashing to the ground. A scuffle ensues, with Clippers guard Baron Davis and Nicolas Batum exchanging words and bumps. Przybilla and Clippers big man Craig Smith also went back and forth. Cook was issued a flagrant foul 2 and was immediately ejected. The other four were issued technical fouls.

 

The scene was very reminiscent of the exchange between the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards last week, which led to the ejection of Wizards center Hilton Armstrong.

WHIMSY:

The Raptors lost, but new guard Jerryd Bayless, acquired from a trade in New Orleans, is flying in to the rescue, here to provide excitement and hope. Bayless finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in 27 minutes off the Raptors bench in a home loss to the New York Knicks.

jerryd-bayless

FINAL THOUGHTS:

To add an insult on top of all the questions that are swirling about the franchise's future in New Orleans, the Hornets got trucked by the San Antonio Spurs, 109-84. Brutal day.

Posted on: December 5, 2010 12:47 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:16 pm
 

NBA takeover could mean Hornets relocate?

A takeover by the NBA could signal a relocation is in the New Orleans Hornets' future and raises old questions about Chris Paul's future with thechris-paulteam. Posted by Ben Golliver We've been tracking the news that the NBA may step in to purchase the New Orleans Hornets pretty closely this weekend. First, here's the breaking news. Second, here's the explanation for why expected new owner Gary Chouest got cold feet. The early word was that the NBA would be looking for local investors to keep the franchise in New Orleans, where it's been since moving from Charlotte in 2002. The latest updates to the story, however, paint a bleaker picture for the future of basketball in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune says the NBA takeover "could be the absolute worst thing to happen in terms of the Hornets remaining in New Orleans beyond the next couple of seasons" because a league-run auction of the franchise would be open to bids from around the world.
Yes, sources indicated that the league would try to find a sole buyer or investment group that would keep the Hornets in New Orleans. There’s no reason to doubt the attempt wouldn’t be made.
But if the highest bidder came from, say, Seattle, the NBA’s desire to keep the team in New Orleans probably would take a back seat to that. In money matters, generally what matters most is money. And if deeper pockets from outside Louisiana emerge, and if that means the franchise is more likely to be economically sound because of it, the NBA hardly would be inclined to make a bad business decision.
Sports Illustrated reports Sunday that the NBA's takeover of the Hornets is imminent -- it could happen within the next few days -- and lists Kansas City, Anaheim and Chicago as possible relocation sites. One would assume the current sale process, which has dragged on for nearly a year, would have exhausted any other possible local ownership groups during its early stages. And if the giant "for sale" sign on the Hornets for the last nine months didn't attract a legit local buyer, it's difficult to see how a new "for sale" sign, this time embossed by the NBA's logo, is going to make much of a difference in the gulf. Making the possibility of relocation even more likely is a recent report that the Hornets are not hitting the attendance benchmarks needed to lock itself into its arena lease in New Orleans. In other words, should an outside buyer emerge with an eye towards moving the team to his destination of choice, a la Clay Bennett and the Oklahoma City Thunder, a major, expensive hurdle that usually exists wouldn't be there to slow down the process. It's grim news for the Hornets, their fans and, especially, new coach Monty Williams and new general manager Dell Demps, who have put the team's roster in order quickly upon their arrivals this summer and have created a winning basketball atmosphere in the face of all of this uncertainty and adversity.  In the long run, a new owner not named George Shinn is better for all involved, but the sale of the team will undoubtedly remain a painful process, one that could cost the team its franchise player, Chris Paul. If I'm Paul, intent on winning and competing for an NBA title in the short-term, thanks to questions about my surgically-repaired knee -- I take a step back and realize that franchises with this much front office turmoil simply do not win titles -- nor consistently compete for them -- in the NBA. If this ownership group can't even sell its majority stake properly, and there are no prospective buyers anxious to do a better job, how will this franchise ever build a true contender? The answer? It won't.  Which leaves Paul with two options: settle in for the (potentially years-long) long haul of up-and-down, day-to-day confusion about the franchise's direction, or start seriously exploring greener pastures. While trade requests are always met with a lot of backlash, in this case it's hard to tell who would blame him. It's one thing to carry four teammates on your back, it's another to carry an ownership group. No player can reasonably be expected to shoulder that burden. Update (5:25 pm):
The Times-Picayune reports Sunday afternoon that the NBA is maintaining a public commitment to the city of New Orleans, and has installed a Lousiana native to oversee the ongoing sale negotiations.
Jac Sperling, vice charrman of the NHL's Minnesota Wild is a New Orleans-born attorney who has in the past negotiated the sale of professional sports teams and guided the Wild into one of hockey's most successful franchises, according to a report at SI.com.
A league source said Sunday that NBA Commissioner David Stern would likely be taking these steps because he firmly wants the Hornets to remain in New Orleans. By taking over the team, the source said, Stern would be able to ensure a sale to someone who was also committed to keeping the team in New Orleans. The Hornets said team president Hugh Weber would not comment on the latest developments, but that Weber would still be in control of the day-to-day operations of the team.
Of course the NBA is invested in franchise stability. And it's also invested in keeping Hornets fans interested in their team in the short term. The league has no choice but to take a pro-New Orleans stance publicly. But as Seattle recently taught basketball fans, money speaks far louder than rhetoric. The only hope for basketball in New Orleans is local money that has, to this point, been nonexistent. 
Posted on: December 4, 2010 1:55 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2010 1:56 pm
 

One reason Chouest backed out? Potential lockout

Posted by Royce Young

The Hornets are walking down a weird path right now. The franchise may be released from its lease with New Orleans Arena because of attendence issues. But on top of that, reports are that the NBA is very close to purchasing the team after apparent buyer Gary Chouest backed off from purchasing the franchise from George Shinn.

For months, it was believed Chouest would purchase the team. But he unexpectedly backed off leaving people to wonder why. And according to the Times-Picayune, it has a lot to do with the NBA's uncertain state surrounding a potential lockout.

On top of that, the report says Chouest doesn't feel like he has the time available to run an NBA franchise as the sole owner while still operating a very successful private business. Chouest is a billionaire that made his dollars from a global marine service company called Edison Chouest Offshore, but was hit hard by the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill.

Reportedly, Chouest was set to purchase the team from Shinn for around $300 million. Currently, he owns a 35 percent stake in the team. Last April, Shinn, who was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, reached an agreement in principle to sell his majority share of the team to Chouest. But no official deal ever came out, indicating that there was some kind of hang up.

And what that probably is includes the uncertainty surrounding the team's lease, the potential work stoppage, Chris Paul's potential desire to leave and whether or not the franchise actually can be profitable in New Orleans.

Add all of those things up and it's understandable how someone might balk at buying the team. The future of professional basketball could be in jeopardy right now, and it could be the NBA's own situation that is helping cause it. A lockout will hurt players and owners, but it could devastate a franchise as fragile as the Hornets.
Posted on: December 4, 2010 1:44 am
Edited on: December 4, 2010 1:45 am
 

Report: NBA may acquire control of Hornets

Reports indicate league considering acquiring control of Hornets in effort to stabilize ownership situation as word spreads that new majority owner has cold feet.  Posted by Matt Moore




The sale of the New Orleans Hornets has gone from interesting to strange to bizarre, to downright berserk. 

First, George Shinn had "come to terms" with Gary Chouest to sell the Hornets, ending a reign of anxiety for Hornets fans as the man who ripped the Hornets out of Charlotte (which still has not recovered) would be replaced with a local guy that could bring new life to the franchise. Then the months dragged on. And on. And there were rumblings that the sale was held up with details. Some rumors suggested that the holdups were non-issues. 

Then earlier this week the Times Picayune reported that the city was facing the possibility of the Hornets being able to opt-out of their lease if attendance measures weren't raised. For the Hornets to have looked like they have (up until about six games ago) and still not be pulling is a huge concern. 

That is, it was until bigger concerns hit. 

Reports surfaced Friday night that the NBA is considering purchasing the New Orleans Hornets, in an effort similar to Major League Baseball's acquisition of the Montreal Expos to find them a stable ownership group. It is believed that the league intends to find an ownership group committed to keeping the Hornets in New Orleans, even with the opt-out possibly becoming available soon. Originally it was believed the effort could be considered in an effort to help the sale to Chouest. 

That's not sounding so promising anymore. 

Late Friday the Times-Picayune reported the following:
Sources indicated Friday night that Chouest does not think he can devote the needed time to run an NBA franchise and operate his private business.
via New Orleans Hornets could become first franchise owned by the NBA | NOLA.com.   

The loss of Chouest as the next owner throws much of the situation in doubt. Shinn no longer wants to own the team, there's not a new majority owner in place, the league may have to step in, and oh, yeah, Chris Paul's been involved in questions about his future in New Orleans since July. It's almost funny to think that it may be the team itself that moves, taking Paul with it, if it weren't for the fact that it would be so depressing for a team that's gone through so much. 

Losing the Hornets in New Orleans wouldn't be a crushing blow for the city by any means (as evident by the attendance woes). But the Hornets' fortunes are tied with memories of Hurricane Katrina, of their temporary relocation to Oklahoma City and the rousing welcome they received that led to the Thunder shipping there from Seattle, and of the Hornets' resurgence in 2008, the same year the league held the All-Star game in a still-rebuilding New Orleans. It would look bad for the league, particularly as it shores up strength and public approval for CBA talks this summer which are sure to be tooth-and-nail, to have to acquire a team and not have solid ownership in place in such a publicly sensitive city. 

It's also a very heavy-handed approach for a league and a commissioner who very much does not usually act in such a manner. David Stern is hard-line and involved when it comes to his players and the control of the league, but hands-off with ownership, wanting them to sort things out on their own. That's why he never formally became involved during the Isiah Thomas era in New York, and, despite what many Sonics fans feel, there was no evidence that Stern condoned or supported Clay Bennett's move to Oklahoma City. This approach would mean a significant financial investment from the league, and sets a dangerous precedent, considering how often NBA teams are switching hands these days. With ownership situations in Memphis, Detroit, and potentially Milwaukee, Sacramento, and eventually Charlotte (come on, it's MJ), the league could be putting itself in a dangerous position with other owners wanting a handout-for-a-way-out. 

Meanwhile, the Hornets have now lost 5 of their last 7, Chris Paul looks very much like he's not 100%, and Jarrett Jack is not the savior off the bench. 

What was once a murky situation for the Hornets is quickly becoming a full-blown quagmire for the city, the team, and now the league. 
Posted on: December 3, 2010 10:02 am
 

Shootaround 12.3.10: LeBron did something

Posted by Royce Young
  • John Krolik of Cavs The Blog: "These were the Heat we all feared. When the Heat play like this, no team can beat them, especially if they have the kind of limited talent the Cavs do. This was also the first night the Heat really played like this, and they still have to prove themselves with another win over a plus – .500 team. This was the night Miami said “enough with the excuses, we are too good to do anything other than embarrass teams like this,” and that started with LeBron."
  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: "The Heat played with a purpose. A playoff-like purpose. This historic return home for one of the NBA's greatest might have become his biggest victory to date. He came out of this not only with the reassurance that he made the right choice, but he left more confident about it than ever. He came out of it knowing that Wade isn't a player with whom he's competing for touches, but possibly the best teammate he could have in moments like this. He came out of it knowing that, just days after he reportedly turned on his head coach, the Heat would still come together to support him. ... Now LeBron can move on."
  • Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer: "Northeast Ohio can be proud of its fans, but the Cavs were horrible. After jumping to a 17-12 lead, they were overwhelmed by James and the Heat. By the end of the first quarter, they were behind, 31-23. At the half, it was 59-40. It just kept getting worse. As the Cavs crumbled, the Heat united around James, who had an MVP-type game with 38 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Who knows if Miami (12-8) uses this game -- its third victory in a row -- to help turn its season around? Frankly, who in Northeast Ohio cares? The Cavaliers were chastised by coach Byron Scott for a lazy approach. During the game as he was pouring in the points, James walked over to the bench a few times and chatted with some of his former teammates. The Cavaliers should be embarrassed by their lack of effort. But not the fans. They were at their best when so many people expected the worst."
Posted on: December 1, 2010 1:41 am
 

The future of the Hornets in NOLA is murkier

Doubt about the future of New Orleans is beginning to creep in as attendance deadline nears.
Posted by Matt Moore




There's been constant talk regarding the Hornets relocating since their (still) current owner George Shinn already moved the team once from Charlotte and has always hungered for the dollar. But when the Hornets started rocking in 2007-2008, those talks subsided as the city got behind the team.

Now, with the team off to a hot (although starting to cool) start, surely the city has responded and there are no legality concerns surrounding the arena attendance, right? Right?

Oh, heck.

If the Hornets do not average crowds of at least 14,213 for the next 13 games at the New Orleans Arena, the franchise can opt out of its current lease agreement with the state, according to Doug Thornton, vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Arena and the Superdome.

The Hornets and the state amended their lease agreement in 2007 to extend it through 2014, but an attendance benchmark of 14,735 was implemented. The franchise can opt out of the pact if the benchmark is not made over a period of two consecutive years during the agreement.
via Apparently, the attendance benchmark is back on the table for the New Orleans Hornets | NOLA.com .

The real problem here is that there's no real way to figure it out. New Orleans has long been viewed as suspect from a financial standpoint. In major markets, ticket price alone and sheer demand will keep you afloat (see: Clippers, The Los Angeles). But in smaller markets like NOLA, you have to rely on support, especially in the "fat" years when you're winning in order to survive the "lean" years when you're rebuilding.

And the Hornets just aren't getting it. Now these numbers are more complicated than just ticket sales, since sponsorships and suites have more to do with the economics of arenas nowadays than actual sales. But those provisions are built in for a reason, to protect the team from a city that just won't support it.

Now, I'm sure Hornets fans feel very strongly about their team and its support, but the numbers unfortunately are pretty damning. And with this kind of economy, it becomes harder for a new owner in Gary Chouest to avoid looking at the options. Chouest however, has given no indications that he'll move the team during his discussions.

Then again, Chouest hasn't been confirmed as owner, yet.

It's a sticky situation for the Hornets, the city, and an arena that insiders say is one of the worst in the league. But they faced a similar situation in 2008, and once the Saints season was done, the city responded. Fans have to trust that will happen again this year, provided Chris Paul keeps the good times rolling.
 
 
 
 
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