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NBA Reaches Agreement to Buy New Orleans Hornets, AP Reports

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The National Basketball Association has reached an agreement to purchase the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn and oversee a sale to a more permanent owner, the Associated Press reported.

Sports attorney Jac Sperling will be the NBA’s administrator for the Hornets, who would be the first team owned by the league, AP said, citing an unidentified person familiar with the decision. Sperling is vice chairman of the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in an e-mail that the league has no comment on the report.

Talks between Shinn and Louisiana native Gary Chouest, who owns 35 percent of the Hornets, have been stalled for months, AP said. It’s unclear whether Chouest, whose business supplies vessels for the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico, will retain his stake in the Hornets when the NBA takes over, the report said. Sperling would oversee the sale of the Hornets and it’s not known if Chouest remains interested in assuming a majority stake, AP said.

The Hornets have been based in New Orleans since team founder Shinn moved them from Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2002. They have a 13-7 record after last night’s 109-84 loss in San Antonio. Through 10 home games, the Hornets are averaging 13,860 fans, the fourth-worst attendance in the NBA.

The Hornets’ lease at New Orleans Arena runs through 2014, though the team could break it if average home attendance drops under 14,735 over a two-year period, AP said.

Shinn, 69, had prostate cancer surgery last year and wants to sell the Hornets to focus on other endeavors, including charitable efforts to fight cancer, AP said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dex McLuskey in Dallas at dmcluskey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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