Should the NBA move forward with its reported plan to purchase the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn and run the franchise while a permanent owner is sought, the league could tab Minnesota Wild vice chairman Jac Sperling, according to SI.com's Ian Thomsen.
Sperling is a New Orleans native who previously served as the general manager of the NHL's Wild and also brokered the 2005 sale of the Anaheim Ducks. Thomsen reports an announcement of the Hornets takeover could come as soon as Monday.
Of specific concern is that, should the Hornets fail to reach attendance standards higher than current levels over the next month, Shinn could break his lease with New Orleans Arena and file for relocation. While the NBA could block any potential move at the league or Board of Governors level, that is not standard practice. Ever since Hurricane Katrina crushed New Orleans' business community and significantly cut the city's population, Shinn has been rumored to be looking for an escape from the market.
Shinn actually attempted to pre-empt the Seattle Supersonics by filing to relocate the Hornets to Oklahoma City in 2008. The NBA smacked down Shinn's request, and the Sonics did move to become the Thunder. It has been rumored that NBA commissioner David Stern has wanted Shinn out of the league ever since. Certainly, few in league circles would cry if the eccentric and unsuccessful Shinn sold the Hornets.
The speedy movement of the NBA's move to take over the Hornets could be seen as a reaction to crisis mode. The Hornets have started well at 13-6 after missing the playoffs amid injury trouble a year ago. The future of Chris Paul looms largely as the franchise slips into potential turmoil.