The NBA has announced they have, indeed, purchased the New Orleans Hornets from owner George Shinn. The Hornets have struggled financially, with Shinn actively shopping the team locally leading-up to David Stern’s announcement on Monday. When Shinn’s last-gasp efforts to sell the team fell-through, the NBA purchased the team and will now move to sell the Hornets to a permanent owner.
The NBA would like to keep the franchise in New Orleans, but as we’ve seen in the past, it could all be lip-service. When then Sonics, and now Oklahoma City Thunder, owner Clay Bennett purchased the team, fans in Seattle heard the same promises from the NBA, commissioner David Stern and the new ownership group. Shortly thereafter, the team was gone, moved to Oklahoma City.
Should the Hornets move out of market, rumors of a move to Seattle would likely begin to swirl. After the Sonics left, Stern spoke of wanting a franchise to return to Seattle someday. SB Nation’s Tom Ziller broke-down the situation and explained how the Hornets sale would be handled, pointing out likely suitors in relocation efforts.
If the NBA were to buy the Hornets from Shinn, it would be similar to Major League Baseball’s handling of the Montreal Expos. The Expos were eventually sold to an ownership group in Washington, D.C.
Markets looking for an NBA team, should the league or Shinn move the team, include Seattle, Kansas City, Anaheim, San Jose and Las Vegas.
Stay tuned for more on the Hornets and the possibility of the NBA returning to Seattle by following our StoryStream.