Michael Jordan finalizes deal to sell majority of Hornets franchise days before NBA draft
In 2010, Michael Jordan bought into a Charlotte Hornets franchise valued at $275 million. Thirteen years later — with a rehabilitated image for the franchise in the community but just three playoff wins in his tenure — Jordan has agreed to terms to sell the majority team just days before the possibly the most consequential NBA draft for the franchise ever. And at an estimated total franchise value of $3 billion.
The Charlotte Hornets announced that Jordan has agreed to terms to sell the team to a group led by Hornets minority owner Gabe Plotkin and Atlanta Hawks minority owner Rick Schnall. (Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first with the news.) Jordan had been working on the sale for months.
Plotkin is the founder and chief investment officer of Tallwoods Capital LLC, while Schnall is co-president of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC. The list of minority investors in this buyer’s group includes rapper J. Cole, country music star Eric Church, and several local Charlotte investors including Amy Levine Dawson and Damian Mills.
The sale comes days before the Hornets have the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft and are looking for a star to put next to franchise face LaMelo Ball. The Hornets have talked about trading that selection — to the Pelicans for Zion Williamson? — with multiple teams eyeing Scoot Henderson, but there is plenty of buzz Charlotte might hold on to the pick and select Brandon Miller. Does this sale make it more likely general manager Mitch Kupchak and the Hornets trade the pick, or less likely? (And how much longer does Kupchak have that job? The sense around the league is not long.)
Beyond the draft, there is hope in some circles that the sale to Plotkin and Schnall would bring an infusion of cash allowing the Hornets to upgrade practice facilities and take other steps to keep them competitive off the court with other NBA franchises.
Jordan was the only Black majority owner of an NBA team. His leap from former player to owner inspired other players. Grant Hill — minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks — followed in his footsteps, and others such as LeBron James talking about their desire to do the same. Jordan also owns the NASCAR team 23XI Racing along with current Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin.