In a surprise move Monday, the owner of the Houston Rockets announced he’s putting the NBA franchise he’s owned for 24 years on the market.
Billionaire Leslie Alexander cites a desire to pursue other passions as his reason for selling the team, which won championships the first two seasons after he took over.
Of course, we happen to know of a certain city that could use an NBA team. Just last month Tim Leiweke, who heads the company planning to renovate KeyArena, sounded pretty grim about the prospects of landing an NBA franchise in the near future. The Oak View Group honcho noted to the Seattle Times that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league is several years away from expanding, so OVG is better served chasing an NHL team first.
“I seem to be the only one willing to step up and say ‘Folks, here’s the reality of the situation we face. Let’s be honest here,’’’ Leiweke told the Times. “‘There is no NBA team to be had today.’ And if there is one to be had, we will be the first ones on it and we have an ownership group and partners that have the ability of going and chasing that team.’’
Well, now there is one to be had.
As word of the Rockets putting up its for-sale sign spread, some fans couldn’t help but fantasize about bringing an NBA team back to Seattle.
Gonna start a GoFundMe so I can buy the Rockets and send them to Seattle.
— Eric Harris (@EricHarrisUA) July 17, 2017
We reached out to the Oak View Group, asking if the company will make a play for the newly available franchise, and will update if more information becomes available. However, Houston’s KPRC 2 reports that Alexander “is committed to finding a buyer that will keep the team in Houston.” Further hurting the relocation odds, the Rockets' lease with the Toyota Center runs through 2033.
Either way, Alexander stands to make a boatload of cash once a sale goes through. Earlier this year Forbes valued the Rockets at $1.65 billion, nearly double what Alexander paid for the team in 1993. According to the magazine, it’s the eighth highest valued team in the league.
Rockets CEO Tad Brown, who’s handling the sales process, tells ESPN the team will take its time to find the right buyer.