Boogie Shoes: Tom Benson Reportedly To Be Announced As New Hornets Owner
The NBA is expected to announce Friday afternoon that the league has a deal to sell the Hornets to a group led by Saints Owner Tom Benson for $338M, according to a source. The league paid approximately $318M for the franchise when it bought the team from George Shinn in December '10. NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to talk about the deal following the NBA BOG meeting in N.Y. (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal). Benson will own 100% of the team (NOLA.com, 4/13). California-based swimsuit manufacturer Raj Bhathal was also bidding for the team. In New Orleans, Jimmy Smith in a front-page piece this morning cited sources as saying that Bhathal and former Hornets Minority Owner Gary Chouest, who is part of Bhathal's group, “met in New York on Monday with league officials, and possibly" with NBA Commissioner David Stern, while Benson reportedly "also spoke with the NBA on Monday, but was not in New York." All parties involved in the negotiations to purchase the league-owned franchise “have signed a confidentiality agreement,” though in the last two months, the Bhathal group “has been publicly identified, as has Chouest’s interest in becoming a minority partner in that consortium.” Benson's “bid for the team when the initial solicitation process began but dropped out,” but he has “re-emerged into the picture." Smith reported it is "unclear whether the NBA sought to bring Benson back into the bidding." Sources said that it "has been Bhathal's focus from the beginning to keep the team in New Orleans and that Bhathal has the financial wherewithal to consummate a purchase" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 4/13).