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California investors (and Mike Dunleavy Sr.) frontrunners to buy Hornets

Feb 25, 2012, 2:17 PM EST

Mike Dunleavy AP

Last week David Stern said he was close to having a buyer for the New Orleans Hornets — and getting a new lease with the state of Louisiana for the New Orleans Area — that would keep the team in the Crescent City.

Those buyers are from Los Angeles not New Orleans based but they seem to have the money and experience, according to a report in the Times-Picayune.

A group led by Los Angeles-area businessman Raj Bhathal, who founded one of the country’s leading swimwear manufacturing companies, has emerged as a top candidate to purchase the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA, sources said Thursday. The group includes Larry J. Benson, brother of Saints owner Tom Benson and former NBA coach Mike Dunleavy….

Former NBA Coach Mike Dunleavy has been the California group’s front man in the initial negotiations, and sources said Thursday the L.A.-based consortium has been given exclusive rights to negotiate a purchase. Dunleavy appeared courtside at a Hornets game earlier this season. Dunleavy’s wife, Emily, is a native New Orleanian.

If your first thought is they are buying the team to move it, they couldn’t unless the Louisiana legislature approves a new lease deal with an early out clause. Which seems a pretty stupid thing for them to do. It all comes down to how that lease would be structured.

Dunleavy, who was coach and GM of the Clippers most recently, wanted to move into more of a front office role and tried to make that happen with the Clippers (helping push Elgin Baylor out the door).

There is a second group led by Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest waiting in the wings. Chouest had been in negotiations with former Hornets owner George Shinn to buy the team, when those talks broke down Shinn sold the team to the league to get out from under it.

I don’t know how good an ownership group this would be, or if Mike Dunleavy is really the perfect guy for the job. But it’s a better option than the league continuing to own the team.

  1. chiadam - Feb 25, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Buy the Hornets, move them to Los Angeles (disappointing hundreds of NOLA fans), merge the team with the Clippers, and call the new team the Los Angeles Hornlippers. Dunleavy can even reunite with Sterling and coach the team back into Mike Tyson’s Bolivian.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Feb 25, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      Hah congratulations, you’ve won the internet today. Enjoy it.

  2. AlohaMrHand - Feb 25, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    sorry Seattle

    • SmackSaw - Feb 25, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      The Kings are moving to Seattle.

      • AlohaMrHand - Feb 26, 2012 at 10:37 AM

        not unless the Maloofs are willing to sell them.From what I’ve read in both the Seattle Times and Sac Bee that that Hansen would want to own the Kings which is something the Maloofs are unwilling to do.I think moving to Anaheim would ultimately prove to be a bad decision considering they’d be a distant third there as far as interest.Staying in Sacramento or going to Seattle would be the wisest move.But we’ll see what Emperor Stern decides to do.Because he honest we all know he makes the decisions.

  3. glink123 - Feb 25, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    I hope the NBA comes to grips with the fact that they’ve had a team for sale for more than a year, and nobody wants it. This screams of market over-saturation, and I hope they realize that contraction is the cure. Get rid of 4 teams, and in the process, drive up the value of the remaining franchises by 20 percent. You also increase the quality of play, thereby increasing ratings. win-win.

    • franbotel - Feb 25, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      BS its the management not the market. If a team is managed badly it will have problems eg bobcats. The Clippers and T’wolves were one of the teams every1 said is a candidate for contraction but we see what a pg and coach can do, they are one of the most interesting teams to watch. Also there are at least 4 markets (Seattle. St Louis, Vancouver and Anaheim ) that want teams. Put a good product on the court and people will come if u dont they wont show up its that simple.

  4. rohlo - Feb 25, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    hornets being in new orleans will continue to lose money..people in new orleans will only support a winner.. ie: see saints majority of the original people driven out have moved to houston as i was jst there and its new orleans south over there..houstons metro pop surrounding areas has jumped to 7 million plus.. people in new orleans dont have the money to pay for 41 home games ticket prices.. some nola faithful are lucky to go to a saints game!

    • mycm1127 - Feb 26, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      You have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m a saints season ticket holder and I got to hornets games regularly.

  5. goforthanddie - Feb 25, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Why wouldn’t a minority owner get first crack at buying the team? Seems kinda odd.

    • franbotel - Feb 25, 2012 at 11:03 PM

      he probably lowballed the majority owner when he assumed nobody was interested in buying the team then the league came in and bought the team for 300mil thereby setting a minimum price.

  6. losangelasbasketball - Feb 25, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Bet 5 bucks the hornets will be the Anaheim Hornets in 2012. LA has no professional football team because the sport causes increases in gang violence in that area… So 3 pro basketball teams isnt unthinkable.

    • AlohaMrHand - Feb 26, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      gang violence?Are you for real?So then the other 31 teams are to blame for gang violence in their areas?Gimme a break.

      • losangelasbasketball - Feb 26, 2012 at 8:11 PM

        The other 31 teams dont have bloods and crypts living in their cities

      • AlohaMrHand - Feb 26, 2012 at 8:19 PM

        yes,New York and chicago and Atlanta and miami are all gang free….seriously dude?

      • losangelasbasketball - Feb 27, 2012 at 3:47 AM

        Yea, los angelas aint no joke… Read about The impact ice cube had on the raiders when they were in los angelas… Parents couldnt take their kids to a raider game cause the bloods and crypts..people have made documemtaries about it….LA hasnt had a pro team for years because the powers that be dont want a sport that families cant bring their little ones to watch safely…thats my view, could be wrong but dont think so….

      • AlohaMrHand - Feb 27, 2012 at 9:14 PM

        I used Togo to Raider games in the LA Coliseum.I saw more drunk fans fight than gang bangers.

  7. AlohaMrHand - Feb 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    ^^^ 32 teams.thank you fat fingers.

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