David Stern talks Hornets, moving and contraction

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David Stern is still selling the Hornets staying in New Orleans. Problem is nobody is buying. Literally. Everybody likes New Orleans but until somebody with money steps up to buy the team and signs deals to keep them there it’s all a lot of talk.

Stern was on the podcast of ESPN’s Bill Simmons (if you don’t want to listen, read the highlights here). The two spent a lot of time talking about the Hornets — currently owned by the NBA after they purchased the team for George Shinn. Best line: Simmons asked Stern if the Hornets win the NBA title does he hand the trophy to himself?

In another interesting conversation between the two Simmons asked if some of the NBA owners —the current owners of the Hornets — would consider contracting the team?

“Well, I guess all I would say to that is that wouldn’t be a conspiracy. I know that there are some owners who might share that view. … Anything that we do gets done by a majority of the owners. All you’re stating is a potential third option. But right now we are steaming full speed ahead with every single possible [intent] to make that team successful in New Orleans, and I think we’re going to succeed. So we’re going to make it unattractive to move it or contract it.”

Have other cities reached out the league about a team (maybe the Hornet)?

We’ve been visited or contacted by three different groups that are putting up a building in Las Vegas. & We’ve had visits from Anaheim, we’ve had visits from, believe it or not, Vancouver.”

Vancouver? Really? Because it went so well last time. Stern goes out of his way to talk about how much they want to keep the team in New Orleans and how they are going to make it hard to move.

Stern makes the point that contraction is unlikely as the owner also have put up $10 million each to buy the team and that contracting the team means they get little of that money back. Contraction, really, has always been something about the CBA negotiations, not reality.

Selling the Hornets is the goal. While Stern continues to give lip service to the team staying in New Orleans, if they can’t find a local buyer then you can bet all those hurdles to leaving will disappear.