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Volume 24 No. 112
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Rockets' Fertitta Seeks To Build Long-Term Contender, Wants To Bring NHL To Houston

New Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta yesterday said he wants people to talk about the Rockets "the way they talk about" the Lakers or the Celtics, teams that "win championships every decade," according to Jonathan Feigen of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Fertitta: "I don't want to win three in a row and not win any for the next 20, 25 years. I want to be a competitive team every year. We're going to make good decisions, and we're going to do whatever it takes to win." Fertitta spent "more for the Rockets and control of Toyota Center than anyone ever had for a North American sports franchise." But he also saw "more ways to spend, from upgrading Toyota Center lounges and dining areas to potentially paying the NBA's punitive luxury taxes." Fertitta said, "I will not make any decision based on what I paid for the team. ... If somebody tells me if you get this player you can win the championship next year, I have no problem losing money on this team." Fertitta also said that he will "not take over basketball decision-making" and will "rarely work from the owner's corner office" at Toyota Center." Rather, he intends to "remain at his headquarters at The Post Oak" in downtown Houston. He expects to be "front and center in free-agent recruiting, but he has no intention of evaluating players and weighing trades himself" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/11).

ICE, ANYONE? The CHRONICLE's Feigen notes Fertitta also said that he would "consider bringing an NHL team to Houston either as an owner or landlord if the numbers could work." Feritta: "I would put an NHL team here tomorrow. This one has got to work. But I'd love to have the other dates in the building. Do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year? Definitely. We'll do whatever we can do, but whatever we do has to make sense." Rockets CEO Tad Brown said that former Owner Leslie Alexander had "looked at NHL teams in the past, but either the timing with labor issues or the deals available were not right." Brown also said that he has spoken to MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum "about an NHL team in Houston." Brown added, "Tilman is aggressive. He has made it very clear to me he wants to see everything. We'll be getting him and Larry together soon" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/11).

TV TIMEOUT: The HOUSTON CHRONICLE notes a camera crew from "The Billion Dollar Buyer," Fertitta's reality TV show, "followed him around Toyota Center as he was introduced" as Owner. However, Rockets Gs James Harden and Chris Paul "will not be featured" in the show. Fertitta said, "This is crazy, but the NBA will not allow players to be in a television show. They can't appear. I'm struggling with this one. It's my show. These are my players. And they can't appear in it." Fertitta said that the rule is "designed to keep owners from making side deals that would circumvent salary cap rules" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/11).