The N.B.A. took the extraordinary step Monday of buying the New Orleans Hornets, one of the league’s most financially troubled franchises, after a deal for the sale of the club fell apart.
The league said it would spend about $300 million to purchase the team from George Shinn, the longtime owner who was no longer able to cover the team’s losses. The league will pay for the team with its own money and take on the Hornets’ debts.
Commissioner David Stern said in a conference call that the league did not have a timetable for selling the franchise. He said the league would have discussions with the city of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana about reworking the team’s lease at the New Orleans Arena, which expires in 2014.
Shinn was trying to sell his stake in the franchise to Gary Chouest, a minority owner. But Shinn’s difficulty reaching a deal with Chouest, coupled with the team’s financial losses and poor attendance, has led to speculation that another investor would buy the team and move it to Seattle, Kansas City or somewhere else.