NEW YORK, December 6 – NBA Commissioner David Stern said Monday the league will go ahead with its plan to purchase the New Orleans Hornets as a means of insuring the club's stability until it can be sold to a new owner.The league will buy the club from majority owner George Shinn and minority owner Gary Chouest, after negotiations between the two for Chouest to buy Shinn’s interest stalled.
"George Shinn has been an exceptional owner for New Orleans and Gary Chouest has been extraordinarily supportive as a minority owner," Stern said.
"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.
"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."
Stern did not say what the NBA is paying for the club but did say the franchise "has been valued in excess of 300 million dollars."
Officially the sale still must be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors, which will likely vote on the matter next week.
Stern said the NBA has recruited New Orleans native Jac Sperling to be the NBA’s administrator of the team until it can be sold to a more permanent owner.
Sperling is a sports attorney and the vice chairman of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
Shinn founded the Hornets in 1988 in Charlotte and moved them to New Orleans in 2002.
After Hurricane Katrina damaged much of New Orleans, the Hornets spent two seasons playing in Oklahoma City from 2005-07.
The Hornets are 13-7 under new coach Monty Williams and new general manager Dell Demps. They got off to a surprising 11-1 start but have lost six of their last eight games.