SBD/Issue 155/Franchises

Expected Sale Of Hornets From Shinn To Chouest At A Stalemate

Shinn, Chouest Cannot Agree On Total
Estimated Value Of Hornets Franchise

The expected sale of George Shinn's majority share of the Hornets to investor Gary Chouest "has reached a stalemate," according to Reid & Smith of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. An NBA source on Friday said that the two sides "cannot agree on the total estimated value of the Hornets' franchise, and Shinn plans to explore other investors to get his desired price." Reid & Smith noted the move "could be perceived as a negotiations ploy to force Chouest to compromise." The source said that Shinn "will entertain offers from potential investors who are not limited to those with Louisiana ties, but they must have a commitment to keep the team in New Orleans." The Hornets' New Orleans Arena lease with the state "expires in 2014." Reid & Smith wrote with a "desire to maintain ownership stability, there is a chance the league could step in to help get talks resumed between Shinn and Chouest." Shinn Friday "declined comment," while Chouest "could not be reached" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 4/24). The AP's Brett Martel noted Chouest has "yet to acknowledge publicly that he wants to buy the team or what his vision for the club would be." But he "did not deny that negotiations were ongoing when approached during halftime of one of the Hornets' final regular season home games" earlier this month (AP, 4/24).

GIVE & TAKE: In New Orleans, John DeShazier wrote, "Let's hope this is nothing more than huffing and puffing, that a sale that appeared merely to lack formality 10 days ago still smoothly will be transacted. All that matters to the casual observer is that the franchise has a secure future in New Orleans, and the belief is that the deeper-pocketed Chouest can make that happen." DeShazier added, "If you're Shinn, you ... are looking to make as much money off the sale as possible. Business is business and discounts aren't given on his end. So while Shinn says he wants the buyer to commit to keeping the team in New Orleans, there's no doubt he also wants the buyer to commit to giving Shinn as much profit as Shinn can squeeze out of him. If you're Chouest, you're looking to keep as much money as possible." The notion that Shinn and Chouest are "beefing over money isn't a deal breaker" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 4/25).

STEADY AS WE GO: The TIMES-PICAYUNE's Reid wrote whether the sale "goes through or not, both owners agree that team president Hugh Weber is the stabilizing force of the franchise and its public face through good times and bad." Weber last week said that all team-related decisions "still would be run through Shinn and Chouest." Weber: "Both owners want the same thing, and that's for this team to be successful and for this team to win, and the best opportunity to do that is to get decisive." Prior to the stalemate, it was believed Weber and Hornets GM Jeff Bower "would pursue only candidates" for the team's vacant coaching position that Chouest "had in mind." Weber said that Chouest "will continue to be consulted on all major decisions involving the franchise, along with Shinn" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 4/25).

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