Earlier this week, there were reports that Larry Ellison might be interested in purchasing the New Orleans Hornets and moving them to San Jose.
Well, Ellison told reporters that he already tried that … and lost.
Ellison said on Wednesday that he offered $350 million for the bankrupt Hornets just last month, but was “slightly outbid” by the league.
However, it seem unlikely that he lost a fair bidding war. For starters, no official number was released, but news reports indicated that the league paid owner George Shinn around $300 million for the team, much less than his reported offer.
The NBA seemed determined to take control of the franchise for its own reasons. They made a big effort to keep the team there after Hurricane Katrina and given the Seattle Supersonics debacle are still leery about a messy relocation battle. There are also financial benefits that could come to the league by absorbing the struggling team.
Most importantly, the league does not want to risk exposing key financial numbers during their critical CBA negotiations with the union. It’s hard to make the argument that the NBA’s financial situation is “broken” when billionaires are lining up to join the club.
Ellison did say that he had no plans to move the franchise to the Bay Area, where he lives, but that he merely wanted to become a sports owner. He lost a different bid to take over the Warriors last summer.
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