HoopsHype Gary Chouest rumors

April 13, 2012 Updates

By the time NBA Commissioner David Stern closes the second day of the league’s Board of Governors meeting at New York’s St. Regis Hotel on Friday, the New Orleans Hornets could have a new owner. It appears the league might be ready to choose between an offer from a group headed by California swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal that will include former Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest, and a bid from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. New Orleans Times-Picayune

The Board of Governors could be asked to approve the ownership transfer for the Hornets before the meeting adjourns Friday afternoon. The NBA declined to comment and the other parties couldn’t be reached for comment. Sources close to the Bhathal group, which also included Larry Benson, Tom Benson’s youngest brother and represented in ongoing negotiations by former NBA player, coach and executive Mike Dunleavy, said Bhathal and Chouest met in New York on Monday with league officials, and possibly with Stern, while Benson reportedly also spoke with the NBA on Monday but was not in New York. All parties involved in the negotiations to purchase the league-owned Hornets have signed a confidentiality agreement, though in the past two months the Bhathal group has been publicly identified, as has Chouest’s ongoing interest in becoming a minority partner in that consortium. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Sources close to Bhathal’s group said Thursday that it has been Bhathal’s focus from the beginning to keep the team in New Orleans and that Bhathal has the financial wherewithal to consummate a purchase. Chouest, the source said, did not want to be a majority owner of the Hornets, but wanted to be involved on a basis similar to his previous minority ownership with founding owner George Shinn. Chouest initially purchased a 25 percent stake in the Hornets and absorbed an additional 10 percent through a series of financial contributions over the years. New Orleans Times-Picayune

April 12, 2012 Updates

The fate of the New Orleans Hornets, who have been under the stewardship of the NBA since December 2010, could be decided soon as the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings are underway in New York. And that’s making some within the organization a little nervous. That’s because, among the potential buyers for the team are Los Angeles businessman Raj Bhathal, Saints owner Tom Benson (whose brother, Larry, has been connected to Bhathal’s group) and Louisiana shipbuilding magnate Gary Chouest, with Nhathal believed to be the leading candidate. The possibility of Benson and/or Chouest joining Bhathal’s group remains distinct. The problem for those currently running the Hornets, though, is that Bhathal’s group also includes veteran coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy. And that could mean drastic changes. Sporting News

“Mike is going to want his own people in there, he has a reputation as a control freak,” a team source told Sporting News. “It will be good for the team obviously to have an owner in. But I think everybody is a little on edge because of that, because you don't know what is going to happen. Or I guess you do know, you know there are going to be changes coming once there’s a new group in charge. It could be a house cleaning.” Sporting News

April 10, 2012 Updates

Just three days before the start of a scheduled NBA Board of Governors meeting, the potential sale of the New Orleans Hornets took a major step toward completion Monday according to league sources who said potential buyers Raj Bhathal and Gary Chouest were in the league office in New York. A source close to Saints owner Tom Benson said Monday that Benson spoke with Commissioner David Stern, while league sources confirmed that Bhathal and Chouest, reported for the last month and a half to be the leading bidders for the league- owned franchise, were in New York for meetings with the NBA. New Orleans Times-Picayune

March 1, 2012 Updates

Two groups have been identified as in bidding for control of the team, a California-based consortium led by swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal, in union with Larry Benson, Mike Dunleavy, and potential New Orleans-area minority investors, and former Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest. The Bhathal group, according to sources, is believed to be the one in the lead, as characterized last week by Stern, with Chouest as a backup. Hornets chairman Jac Sperling, the New Orleans native whom Stern appointed to provide stewardship for the franchise, improve its troublesome economics and broker a sale that would provide long-term viability and stability here, has been simultaneously negotiating with buyers and speaking with state officials about the framework of a lease extension that will keep the team in New Orleans through 2024, with no escape clauses. New Orleans Times-Picayune

April 10, 2011 Updates

For a long time it seemed that the sale to Gary Chouest was going to go through. Can you tell the fans what happened and why did the deal fall through? George Shinn: That’s a good question. I can’t really respond to what was going on in Gary’s mind, because it wouldn’t be fair for me to do that. But really, the only person that knows the answer about that is Gary. (Chouest has not commented about the breakdown of the deal). I suppose the timing was just not right for him. But the timing was right for me. I’m just trying to look forward to my future, doing things with my foundation. After going through this cancer scare, I just made the decision that this was something I had to do to help my kids get their life in order, put together a trust for them so they could get their lives going instead of all of us clinging to the team. And with all the uncertainty and whatever, I felt it was time to do it. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Shinn: There’s been a lot of misconception, I think, that Gary and I fought and didn’t communicate toward the end. That’s just not true. I care deeply for the community. When Gary Chouest wasn’t going to buy the team, the NBA purchasing the team was the best option for me and for the club to remain in New Orleans. In my conversation with David Stern, I told David, ‘My goal is to keep the team there. If you guys will work to that goal, I’d be happy for you guys to take it and go with it.’ And so, here we are. New Orleans Times-Picayune

December 11, 2010 Updates

Chouest could eventually try to buy back a slight majority share of the team if he can find other investors to purchase the remaining percentage, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Chouest was close to completing a deal to take control of the franchise from outgoing owner George Shinn in the spring before negotiations broke down. Though finances obviously played a role in the sale not being completed, league sources also said Chouest, who is extremely private, has been hesitant to increase his public profile. The big question now is whether it will be worth buying the Hornets with a lockout expected after the season. Also, is there anyone with Louisiana ties interested in joining forces with Chouest? Yahoo! Sports

December 9, 2010 Updates

Based on his dealings and conversations with New Orleans Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest, Coach Monty Williams said Wednesday night he could envision a scenario in which Chouest returns to purchase the team. Chouest reached an impasse in negotiations with George Shinn to buy Shinn’s remaining interest in the franchise, and now the two are in the process of selling their interests to the NBA for a reported $300 million. Chouest has a 35 percent stake in the team. “From his words, he’s not out of the picture; I will say that,” Williams said. “If there’s an opportunity for him to get back into it, I think he would jump on it in a minute.” New Orleans Times-Picayune

December 8, 2010 Updates

George Shinn has been an exceptional owner for the franchise throughout the 22 years the Hornets have been in existence, and Gary Chouest has been extremely supportive as minority owner over the last few seasons. We plan to continue to build upon the culture they created. Our team will remain focused on two main goals: * We will continue to build a legacy in the local community by maintaining a championship-caliber team on the court and through our numerous community initiatives off the court, * We will continue to develop a path and plan for a local owner to bring an NBA Championship to New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. NBA.com

NBA Commissioner David Stern says the league is proceeding with its plan to buy the New Orleans Hornets from majority owner George Shinn and minority owner Gary Chouest. Stern confirms that the league has recruited New Orleans native Jac Sperling to be the NBA's administrator of the team. Sperling is a sports attorney and the vice chairman of the NHL's Minnesota Wild. FanHouse

December 6, 2010 Updates

Shinn had two proposed buyers for the team, including one that wanted to move the team, according to the source, but decided not to make either deal after a discussion with NBA commissioner David Stern. "George called David," the source said, "and said 'I have two offers to sell the team outside of Gary's offer, and one is to move the team. I don't want that to be my legacy. What can you do?' " NBA.com

The NBA is poised to assume total ownership of the New Orleans Hornets in the next few days, and published reports have someone with local ties overseeing the transition and eventual sale of the club. Jac Sperling, vice chairman of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, is a New Orleans-born attorney who has in the past negotiated the sale of professional sports teams and guided the Wild into one of hockey's most successful franchises, according to a report at SI.com. New Orleans Times-Picayune

League sources said Sunday night that the NBA would purchase 100 percent of the Hornets, including the 65 percent currently owned by George Shinn and the 35 percent owned by minority partner Gary Chouest. It's possible - but a long shot - that Chouest could turn around and purchase 100 percent of the team from the NBA. New Orleans Times-Picayune

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