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Friday, April 9, 2010
The New Orleans Hornets without George Shinn

By Henry Abbott

Amid reports that George Shinn may be selling his majority stake in the New Orleans Hornets to minority owner Gary Chouest has Ryan Schwan of Hornets247 affixing his research hat.

First, he found that the most common criticism of Shinn -- that he's cheap -- really isn't based in fact. Schwan writes:
He has consistently put a solid product on the floor. Including this season, The Hornets will have had 14 years of .500 or better basketball, as opposed to eight sub-.500 seasons. Considering that four of those poor seasons were expansion years, that's a very good record. As for those who see this as a blessing because they consider George Shinn "cheap", his team salaries have been in the bottom 10 of the league only seven times in that 22-year history -- and again, four of those were during the expansion seasons. He has, quite simply, not skimped on player salaries, even if his front office has been slimmer than others.

And what do we know of Chouest? His income is hard to decipher as his business is privately held. But there are strong signs he's an owner with the resources and desire to keep the Hornets in New Orleans for the long haul.
He has more resources than George Shinn did -- and has other sources of income than the basketball team, which may (I can't emphasize this "may" enough) make him more willing to absorb losses in the short term. He also has a history that indicates he's fond of basketball. He was reportedly involved in an attempt in the 1990's to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves and bring them to New Orleans, and since becoming a minority owner has been a fixture in his courtside seats during games. He is also, through and through, a Louisiana man. When he bought into the Hornets, he stipulated that should George Shinn move the team, he would have to be bought out first. With his company continuing to expand facilities in Louisiana over the last couple years, it just seems very unlikely he'd even consider taking the team out of state.