The New Orleans Hornets have been bought and taken over by the NBA, the league announced Monday. The NBA's other 29 teams purchased the team ouright from longtime owner George Shinn and his minority partner Gary Chouest.
In a release, the NBA said team president Hugh Weber, Shinn's brother-in-law, will remain in control of the franchise. The league has, however, installed Jac Sperling, the former general manager and current vice chairman of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, to serve as the team's go-between to the NBA.
The NBA has not made clear whether it will focus on finding an owner to keep the Hornets in New Orleans. The team moved to the Crescent City from Charlotte in 2002. Rumors abound that several cities, including Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle and Anaheim, will target the Hornets if the league doesn't commit to New Orleans.
In the league's statement, NBA commissioner David Stern said he asked the league's owner to take the unprecedented step of buying out Shinn and Chouest.
"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."
Chouest, a southern Louisiana businessman, had been in talks to buy Shinn's share, but expressed uncertainty with the market and the potential for a 2011 NBA lockout. The NBA's takeover essentially rules out Chouest as a buyer.