The story isn't all that unfamiliar: a broke team owner falls out of love with his market and decides to sell his team. The best bids come from investors who'd move the team and screw the small market that supported the franchise. Local officials have been willing to help finance improvements to facilities, but the team owner isn't in a position to wait it out.
It happened in 2010 in New Orleans, and it's happening in 2013 in Sacramento. Hornets owner George Shinn -- the first man in memory to attempt to ruin two NBA markets, a veritable basketball version of Jeff Loria -- really did not appear to want to run a team in post-Katrina New Orleans. The guy applied for market rights to Oklahoma City after Clay Bennett bought the Sonics -- the Hornets had spent time during the hurricane recovery there in OKC, and Shinn wanted to take the team there permanently. (As "permanent" as anything can ever be for Shinn.) Frankly, the Hornets struggled to re-engage with a significantly smaller New Orleans after the team returned. Shinn was going broke, having tapped out the NBA's debt facility. By late 2010, he was ready to cash out. Rumors suggested Larry Ellison would buy the team and try to move it to San Jose.
But near the start of the 2010-11 -- the pre-lockout season -- the NBA swooped in and bought out Shinn for $300 million, taking over the team for more than a year before flipping it to New Orleans saint/New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson for a modest profit. There were controversies along the way, including David Stern's interjection -- as team owner, not league commissioner -- in the proposed Chris Paul to the Lakers trade. But in the end, Stern got what he wanted: the team ended up with a great owner, there were no nasty lawsuits and the Hornets stayed in New Orleans. Wins all around.
Is the salvation of the Hornets a precedent for the Kings?
SB Nation | Jan 30