Stern says sale of Hornets could be complete in few weeks

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In a lead up to All-Star Weekend, NBA Commissioner David Stern sat down with David Aldridge of TNT/NBA.com for an interview, one which covered everything from the level of play this season to Jeremy Lin. Because all NBA conversations must now by law include Jeremy Lin.

But maybe the most interesting quote was when Stern was asked about progress on the sale of the Hornets. (Transcription via At The Hive)

“We’re moving on dual tracks on a buyer, and with the state’s contribution under a new lease that will likely be complete, both of those, by March 1 or on or about March 1. The deal itself can’t close until the legislature confirms the role of the state, and the legislature convenes in March.”

I’m taking this with a few grains of salt — if you wanted to put pressure on a legislature to pass a more favorable lease during a down economy, saying they are holding up a sale of the team is a good way to do it. It’s the best card Stern could play here.

That said, Stern wouldn’t outright lie here and we hope this is true.

Stern said there was a one candidate “in the lead” and a second basically waiting in the wings to buy and take over the franchise, keeping it in the Crescent City. No names were revealed.

We’ll see how fast this actually happens (and what Stern says at his general press conference All-Star weekend) but it seems like there is a path to a new owner. Which is good. The league’s management of the Hornets has been at best and uncomfortable mess, and if you ask Mark Cuban much worse.

General Manager Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams deserve someone who will chart a direction for the franchise and give them a real chance to show what they can do.