New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn is selling the team to the NBA, a move that could be the beginning of the end of the NBA in New Orleans.
Could it be the Montreal Expos all over again?
The NBA hopes not, the league would prefer to keep the Hornets in New Orleans.
"In the absence of any viable purchaser seeking to own the Hornets in New Orleans, I recommended to the NBA Board of Governors that the best way to assure stability and the adequate funding of the franchise would be for the league to step in, and complete the transaction and assume control," said commissioner David Stern on Monday.
The sale is expected to be approved by the league’s board of governors next week.
However, the Hornets have an out clause in their lease with the New Orleans Arena if certain attendance figures are not reached. Currently, attendance is below those figures. The team must notify the state by March if it plans to relocate.
In the summer, it had been expected that Shinn would sell the team to Louisiana native Gary Chouest, but they could not work out a deal. Chouest owns 35% of the team.
This is the first time the NBA will be the majority owner of a franchise.
Shinn, like former Expos owner Jeffrey Loria, had a less than stellar reputation in the city where his team played and it was thought Chouest would make everything right.
Eventually, Major League Baseball bought the Expos and later moved the team to Washington.
The Hornets are trying to ignore the commotion, but forward David West, the longest-serving Hornet, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune it isn’t easy.
“Honestly, it’s a mess,” West said.
“I try to be optimistic at all times, try to see the positive side of things. Something good will come out of this one way or another.”
The Hornets moved to New Orleans from Charlotte in 2002 and relocated to Oklahoma City for the 2005-07 seasons when the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina made it impossible for games to be played in New Orleans.
The Seattle Supersonics later moved to Oklahoma City and it is a wide-held belief that professional basketball will return to Seattle one day, though a new arena must be built before that can happen.
The best player Canada has ever produced isn’t showing many signs of slowing down.
Steve Nash recently scored 20 points, making all eight of his field goals attempts and all three of his free throws. Two other players have scored 20 without missing a shot this season, but with 17 assists, Nash he most prolific passer to manage the feat in NBA history.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the previous mark was 10 assists by Lester Connor in 1985.
The two-time NBA MVP and the Phoenix Suns beat Washington and high-flying rookie point guard John Wall 125-108.
Wall took the loss as an educational experience telling reporters:
“You can learn a lot from (Nash). He always finds people at the last second, always finds an easy shot. He’s tough. He knows all the tricks of the trade and keeps you on his hip.”
Around the rim
The Clippers have lost centre Chris Kaman again to the same left ankle injury that kept him out of action earlier in the season. Kaman missed 12 games before returning against Denver on Friday night. He got injured again on Sunday and will miss at least one game and likely a lot more ... Denver centre Chris Andersen has a small fracture in a lower left vertebra and will miss at least two weeks. Andersen had missed the first 13 games of the season with a foot injury ... Nuggets coach George Karl earned the 999th win of his career against Memphis on Sunday night. A win in Charlotte on Tuesday would make Karl the seventh coach to join the 1,000 win club. Denver has won seven games in a row ... Oklahoma City got NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant back in its lineup on Sunday ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, if Suns forward Grant Hill finishes with 14.0 points per game or more this season (he is currently averaging 14.1 points per game), he would become the sixth player to average at least that many at age 38 or older. The other names on the list are quite impressive: Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller and Robert Parish ... Spurs centre Tim Duncan is the only player in league history to have more playoff triple doubles (four) than regular season ones (three, after getting one against Golden State last Tuesday) ... Reports say the Cavaliers have not put forward Antawn Jamison on the trading block, yet ... Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver will miss 6-8 weeks with a knee sprain.
Blake Griffin's just awesome
It is getting impossible to leave Blake Griffin out of this space.
The Los Angeles Clippers rookie continues to be the story of this NBA season.
When was the last time a 4-15 team was can’t-miss? Maybe never, but Griffin is the most fun player to watch in quite some time. Griffin is a human pogo stick who shows flashes of past players like Shawn Kemp, Larry Johnson (before his back injury) and Charles Barkley (when he was skinny).
DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors recently said Griffin was like a “video game” and that assessment isn’t far off.
Griffin is playing with opponents, averaging 20.6 points and 11.8 rebounds in his first season in the league (he missed all of the 2009-10 campaign due to injury).
Griffin started strong but has taken off since centre Chris Kaman got injured.
He is now shooting over 50% from the field after starting the year in the 40-45% range and in five recent games, Griffin averaged 29.6 points and 14.2 rebounds per game. Those aren’t rookie of the year numbers, they are MVP numbers.
And Griffin is just getting started.
Chandler turning Mavericks into a contender
The 16-4 start by the Dallas Mavericks is a bit stunning, but it was clear they had talent before the season began.
What wasn’t forecast, was a breakout campaign from Tyson Chandler.
Finally dumped by the Charlotte Bobcats after almost being traded to the Raptors this summer, Chandler has been reborn playing beside fellow 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki in Big D.
Chandler is shooting 65.8% from the field, more than 10% higher than his career average, is up to 80% from the line (after shooting at a 60% clip throughout his career) and is grabbing 9.2 boards and blocking 1.4 shots for the Mavs.
With Chandler and backup Brendan Haywood intimidating opponents, Dallas — on a nine-game winning streak — has lurked near the top of the league in fewest points allowed and best field-goal defence for most of the season.
While Nowitzki has been his usual all-star self and though Chandler has called the ageless Jason Kidd the team’s MVP, Nowitzki humbly says Chandler is the choice.
“For sure,” Nowitzki told ESPN.
“He’s been The Man.”
A.I. back on track in Turkey
Is Allen Iverson’s Turkish sojourn coming to a premature end?
It would hardly be a surprise, given his mercurial past, but Iverson says not to believe the rumours he is unhappy playing for Besiktas in Turkey.
Via Twitter, Iverson offered reassurances:
“What’s up everybody? I want all of yall to know that I am very happy here in Istanbul. My family and I are making this our home,” Iverson wrote on Saturday night.
“For those of you who care about me, just know that I am very pleased and enjoying this ride!”
Iverson was signed for $4 million after no NBA teams made him an offer, but took his time getting to Turkey and has not exactly dominated while there.
The former NBA MVP, one of the highest scorers in league history, is averaging 9.6 points and 3.6 assists through five games.
European site Talk Basket had reported last week that Iverson wanted out because things weren’t working out.
While that could well happen in a month or two, everything seems OK at the moment.
Iguodala on the outs?
Sixers president Rod Thorn has disputed a published report that the team is attempting to trade Andre Iguodala, telling the Philadelphia Intelligencer the team is: “Trying to ascertain the value of all our players. Big difference.”
Still, if an offer came their way that made sense, few doubt the team would move the closest thing it has to a star.
With a glut of guard/small forward talent (No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams) all battling with the older Iguodala for minutes and with the team wallowing near the bottom of the league, keeping Iguodala makes little sense.
He has three years remaining on his contract and is owed over $40 million US over that time.
When the Sixers played in Toronto recently, it appeared that chemistry was an issue with the team.
At one point, forward Andres Nocioni muttered to himself “pass the (expletive) ball, pass the (expletive) ball,” when Iguodala barrelled towards the basket, drawing a foul. Iguodala also appeared frustrated when teammates could not handle passes he fired to them inside.