Bulls

Saints owner to reportedly purchase Hornets

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Saints owner to reportedly purchase Hornets

With a cloud of darkness still hovering over the New Orleans Saints from an under-the-table bounty scheme they ran from 2009-11, owner Tom Benson has reportedly reached a deal to buy the New Orleans Hornets.

According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, the league reached a tentative agreement early Friday morning with the Saints owner to buy the team for 338 million, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

The league had no objections to Bensons purchase as the Saints and Hornets are in the same city.

The New Orleans Times Picayune first reported the sale of the Hornets to Benson this morning.

A source indicated that Tom Benson spoke with Stern on Monday, and the deal came together quickly after that discussion. Benson will have to pay approximately 10 percent of the purchase price immediately. The NBAs Finance Committee is expected to approve the sale Friday morning before the Board of Governors meeting adjourns, with final approval on the sale expected later in the spring.

The Hornets have the Western Conference worst record at 16-42, but under second-year head coach Monty Williams, they have competed hard on a nightly basis.

Its unclear whether a name change would be coming as Benson might want a name that connects more with the tradition of New Orleans and he will also have the task of trying to extend the services of unrestricted free agent Eric Gordon and unrestricted free agent Chris Kaman.

Adam Silver gives inside look at conference call with President Trump

Adam Silver gives inside look at conference call with President Trump

On Monday evening, NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke on Twitter Live in an extended interview with TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson.

In the discussion, Silver was asked about a possible timetable for the NBA resuming play and also the phone call he and the other professional sports commissioners had with President Donald Trump on Saturday, April 4.

"It was an old-school conference call," Silver said. "No video. I was notified, and the league, I think all the leagues were notified earlier in the week that it was something the President wanted to do. The specific time wasn't set until Friday afternoon. We were notified it was going to take place at noon on Saturday.

"It lasted about 45 minutes. And it was more like a conventional conference call. You were given a call-in number and a participant number that was specific to you, I assume, for security purposes. I don't know who was on the line with the President from his office because only the President spoke, but he made some introductory remarks again just in terms of the fact that he is a passionate sports fan and the fact that he missed seeing live sports on television. He mentioned he'd been watching some classic telecasts of games in all sports and he went on to say, 'I'd love to hear from all of you,' and I think we all just took turns."

From there, Silver said each commissioner offered updates on the status of their leagues. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert provided a rundown on the W's virtual draft scheduled for April 17 and the recent postponement of their season. Silver discussed the aforementioned "NBA Together" intiative, which strives to circulate best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 — from social distancing and hand washing and sheltering at home protocols.

"Early on I think there was particular concern from the government that young people in particular, who are known to feel a little invulnerable in life," Silver said of the demographic he hopes the league's messaging will resonate with. "I think at this point we've had roughly 30 public service announcements including from players like Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert that were some of the initial well-known people to test positive in this country. So it gave them a chance also to remind young people in particular — even to the extent that the data is showing young people, while at risk, are not as at-risk as older people or people with preexisting conditions — that they owe it to their fellow citizens to sacrifice and to stay at home and observe those protocols."

Moreover, Silver said the commissioners and President Trump discussed the economic and societal good that sports returning might have on a country that is in for a long relief and recovery process as a result of the pandemic.

"I know all the leagues share this view that we'd love to be part of the movement to restart the economy," Silver said. "Of course that can't come in a way that would compromise safety. But I think we also have to recognize that it's a public health matter to shut down the economy and leave tens of millions of Americans unemployed. It's a public health matter to isolate people."

But of course, that is a secondary priority to solving the problem in the first place. Silver understands that point.

"Again, all done for good reason right now. Health and safety have to come before any commercial interests. It's a balance but even in terms of psychological impacts of isolating people.  I think there's no doubt at this point that as a country we are following the right course."

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver gives update on timetable to resume play

NBA commissioner Adam Silver gives update on timetable to resume play

On Monday evening, NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke on Twitter Live in an interview with TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson. The interview was conducted as part of a program called "NBA Together." 

In the discussion, Silver was asked about a possible timetable for the NBA resuming play and the obstacles of a possible return for the league. Johnson said that this was the first time he and Silver had spoken since March 12, one day after the NBA postponed its season. He asked Silver if he had a better feel for where the league is regarding a possible resumption of play. 

"The short answer is no," Silver told Johnson. "When we initially shut down, we were calling it a hiatus or a pause. There was a notion of 30 days, because there wasn't any of the widespread view at that point that, in essence, our country would be entirely shut down over the next several weeks. And so the fact is now, sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then."

Silver added that while it’s still too early to project where the NBA (or world) will be in a few weeks, he expects that at least for the rest of April — and perhaps beyond — the league “won’t be in any position to make any decisions.” It’s simply still too early to plan or predict anything about this rapidly evolving crisis with any certainty.

In that vein, when asked by Johnson if the NBA has made headway on a plan to resume the season, Silver was noncommittal, and understandably so. The commissioner said he’s learned to be wary of making any prediction in these uncertain times. 

In a recent appearance on SportsCenter, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that there is increasing pessimism throughout the league that a resolution to this season will end up being feasible. While Silver didn’t go that far, he did echo a concern that Windhorst brought up in his reporting: impacting the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

“As I look out into the summer, there does come a point at which we start impacting next season,” Silver said. “A few weeks ago, nobody thought we were talking about even potential impact on next season independent of what we might choose to do to finish our regular season and playoffs. Again, I think now, because so little is known, we're here, we're ready to go. I mean, I don't want to leave the suggestion with anybody that we're not doing everything we possibly can to restart under the right circumstances, but of course player safety and the health of everyone in the NBA family has to come first.”

Silver then went into detail on the logistical hurdles strategizing a return to action comes with, even saying the league has been in touch with potential sites to host fanless or quarantined games.

“That may mean that there is a scenario in which we can play without fans. That is something we (have) looked at lot at,” Silver said. “In fact, I think the Warriors were scheduled to play the first fanless game before we were shut down. So we are looking at that possibility and we were thinking about what that might mean.

“How would those games be televised? Would we still play in huge NBA arenas? Or would we go to practice facilities? Would we go to a single site? I mean, there's been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament. Again, we are in listening mode right now. We've been contacted by many of those jurisdictions to ask what our level of interest is and we've talked to them about what their capabilities are. But once again there's just too much unknown right now.”

But Silver strongly emphasized that health and safety considerations have and always will be paramount. Still, if a return were possible for the NBA or other professional sports, there could be great economic and societal benefit. It’s a difficult line to straddle, a point Silver understands well.

“The health of everyone in the NBA, our players, coaches, anyone who's on the front line has to come first,” Silver said. “I will say to [Ernie Johnson's] point about the greater good, we, sports collectively, in essence led the way in shutting down. And it's something I said when we were all on the call with [President Donald Trump] this weekend, I know all the leagues share this view that we'd love to be part of the movement to restart the economy.”

“Of course that can't come in a way that would compromise safety. But I think we also have to recognize that it's a public health matter to shut down the economy and leave tens of millions of Americans unemployed. It's a public health matter to isolate people.”

Ultimately, the data will dictate when a slow return to normalcy can begin. Silver believes sports can play a role in that collective healing process, but only once an “all-clear” consensus is reached. 

When that might be remains to be seen.

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