Do you have about $2 billion just lying around?
If so, Dikembe Mutombo would like to talk to you.
It was a surprise this week when Leslie Alexander decided to put his Houston Rockets up for sale. A number of people are scrambling to put together groups to buy the team, and Mutombo is among them he told Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston.
“I’m working on it,” Mutombo said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I’m talking to a lot of people already since (Monday). We’ll see. I’m just talking to the people who can cut the check and they can make me be part of it. I’m working on that….
“The Rockets are a great franchise. They have a great team. They’ve got great coaches, great basketball players, great staff. Whoever is coming in, it’s not like they’re going to have to rebuild it. I’m trying to convince some people about trying to buy this team. It’s one of the best franchises right now. It’s really the right time.”
Which is why multiple groups are expected to join together in bids.
While Forbes estimates the Rockets’ worth at $1.65 billion — eighth most in the NBA — most observers around the league expect the team to sell for more than that. The team is in the 10th largest television market in the nation, it has long been stable and built up a large and loyal fan base, and with two superstars — James Harden and Chris Paul — the Rockets are one of the NBA’s top four teams by any measure and that means good gate and sponsorship money in the arena for the next few years. This team is going to be profitable, which is attractive to potential buyers.
Another reason there might be multiple bidders driving up the price — Alexander bought the team 24 years ago for $85 million. Sports franchises have proven good investments over the years.
Mutombo has shown himself to be a pretty shrewd business man over the years, but there are a limited number of people who can either buy a team at the expected prices or put together a group who can. Most likely the winning bidder will be a person or two people taking on most of the risk, with a handful of minority investors. Among those putting up lesser money could be a former player or NBA executive with ties to the league who can be the face of the operation — such as with Grant Hill in Atlanta. That is likely the role Mutombo seeks.
We’ll see if Mutombo can pull this off, and if he can’t what other groups will emerge in the process.