Aldridge Reports Tom Benson to Purchase New Orleans Hornets

The New Orleans Saints owner will extend his downtown empire.

David Aldridge has reported that Tom Benson will purchase the New Orleans Hornets for $338m, adding to the original report of the sale from Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune.

“A source indicated that the deal between Benson and the league was reached on Monday. Benson will have to pay approximately 10 percent of the purchase price immediately. The NBA’s 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.”

Some Benson Pros:

Involvement with the Saints, Hornets, and Champions Square in many aspects

Benson being a majority owner prevents a Hornets relocation to any other NFL market as long as he owns both franchises

Benson has shown that he’ll spend when he thinks he can field a championship team

Some Benson Cons:

He may consolidate staff, potentially eliminating many good Hornets employees in favor of Saints staff

His leverage with the State the citizens may make him powerful enough to make disproportionately larger demands in the future

Any trouble with him or his family affects the entire major sports scene in the city

Details will be added in this post, and a detailed analysis will be up shortly once the situation matures appropriately.

53 responses to “Aldridge Reports Tom Benson to Purchase New Orleans Hornets”

  1. I wouldn’t worry too much about him consolidating staff. Eliminating jobs would look terrible for the NBA, and enough people have criticized the ownership of the Hornets enough that I think Stern wants to avoid anymore pitfalls, so I would assume he told Benson he can’t eliminate jobs like that unless he can show a direct need to do so, or that the jobs are a complete waste.

    You forgot another pro: Rita Benson Leblanc as the heir (I’m assuming she would be, since she is for the Saints) and she’s shown she definitely knows what she’s doing

    • I left off many pros, or apparent pros. If I listed them all, there would be no Chuck sass, and I live for that stuff!

      Good times . . . likely . . .

  2. A great GM, a new owner, hopefully this means we can actually make some good offseason moves for a change! The past offseasons for the Hornets haven’t been great.

  3. I’m hoping he keeps Monty and dell..don’t think dunleavey would have kept them cuz he’s a control freak

    • Strongly disagree. I like Williams, but Demps has made way too many moves that made me scratch my head in confusion when making franchise changing decision. Sure I was against Grevis(I was wrong there) and Ayon has seem like an quality find. The Lakers/Rockets trade was to much of a mistake to overlooked. We have Gordon which alone is more vaulable than Martin, Scola, Dragic(who would be the only plus of that trade) and a overly emotional Odom combined. Then the decision to keep Kaman and Landry and let their deals expire with the chance of getting nothing beyond this year are strikes that a championship level GM can’t make. I understand everything wasn’t rosey with the outside influences, but thats not an acceptable excuse IMO.

      • Throne, I always enjoy reading your comments. They are passionate and well thought-out, but I must disagree with you about Dell. Possibly no GM in the history of the NBA has had to operate under the uncertainty and duress that Demps has. I think he has tried to be creative within the restrictions he has worked under. Sure he has made some moves that didn’t work, but I think his body of work has been impressive, and he needs a chance to work unfettered. Give him time and I think he will build a championship team. If not, then get rid of him, but remember that building a team the way he seems to be is a process, not an event. The Knicks signing Carmello was an event. The Clippers signing Paul was an event. Building the Spurs to be successful over the long term was a process. I think that is what Dell is attempting to do, and I wish him luck.

      • da ThRONe, Demps snagged two lottery picks in one of the deepest drafts in the past 15 years. Add in the moves he made early this season when he took advantage of the Grizzlies’ injury woes to snag Greivis (the best passer the Hornets have seen since last year) AND a former lottery pick in Xavier Henry, you see Demps truly has a knack for playing the phones. A good GM is not afraid to make unpopular moves when the time is right, and now that he has an owner with an accessible checkbook, I think Hornets fans should all be celebrating at French Quarter Fest this weekend.

      • Throne,

        We agree that the Vasquez trade and Ayon signing are very strong. (I also like the Henry for NEXT year’s Hornet’s 2nd rounder.)

        What about this trade: Darius Songalia and Craig Brackins to Philly for Jason Smith and Willie Green? Or this one: Julian Wright to Toronto for Marco Bellinelli?

        Songalia and Wright are out of the NBA, and Brackins is averaging 3 minutes a game. Green is averaging 17 and we all know what Smith and Beli are doing. That’s three junk players for three at least quality back-ups who average playing 17, 23, and 30 minutes this year.

        For the Lakers trade, we have no idea what input Dell was given prior to the trade. Or what limits were placed on him.

        As far as Kaman and Landry go, what did the Hornets get offered? A 2nd rounder, which is essentially nothing. I’d say Dell made the right decision keeping them. Now we have their Bird rights and more time to convince them New Orleans is the place for them, all things being equal.

        I will be very upset (and surprised) if both Dell and Monte aren’t retained by Benson.

  4. Great news. I do like that Jason was level headed enough to point out the cons of this transaction. However the pros completely blow the cons out of the water.


    • Everything has a cost.


      I will scream it until everyone in the whole world dies from boredom of hearing that peal off in the distance every hour on the hour.

  5. Irony I love best about the news today … tonight we play the Jazz…love it!!

    I disagree with you da ThRONe on the Demps evaluation. See where you’re coming from but still disagree at the end of the day.

    National reporters have been squawking a lot about Dunleavy cleaning house once he got in, so I suspect Demps, Coach and Weber just increased their chances of survival, but of course on guarantees in life.

    Overall, I agree with the rest of y’all … I think this is great news for the city; I think the city will now be much more invested in keeping both franchises healthy and happy. I’m toasting the Benson family tonight.

  6. Once again: This is fantastic news!

    It brings Relief, Joy, Hope and Excitement to my heart!

    Geaux Hornets!

  7. Congratulations!

    I know what it’s like to have a bad owner, having had to endure Chris Cohan and what he did to the Warriors, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a team without an owner and have to deal with all the uncertainty. I am really happy for the team and the city. This is great news.

  8. The day Jason Smith body checked Blake Griffin on his way to the bucket, Benson realized this was the team for him 🙂

      • Maybe next season, in addition to Hugo, Benson could make Jason Smith an honorary team mascot. Jason Smith will retire a Hornet and I couldn’t be happier that he’s on this team. A move that Dealer Dell made to get and I think Jason’s improved his worth to make Willie Green the real secondary player in the deal that shipped Darius Songalia and Craig Brackins to Philly. Awesome.

        All hail our new owner, Tom Benson creating an empire down in New Orleans!

  9. The problem with giving Demps a chance is this franchise is in a very fluid situation. The next two years will be crucial for us. If they aren’t managed right we could easily be looking at a medicore decade at best.

    The Vasquez and Henry trades along with signing Gustavo are his highlights as the GM all at best are key role players. He pull the trigger on a deal that shipped out the franchise greatest player for a low draft pick and a bunch of “OK” guys with questionable contracts. Now we have to es-sign Kaman at a decent price or we lose him for nothing. Like I said about pros and cons his cons greatly out weights his pros.

    • Man you are mistaken in my opinion. Do you not remember how many bad contracts we had? Who would have guessed Jason Smith would be anything more than a 12th man? Then to have him for another 2 seasons at 2.5 mill each? Thats a steal. Ayon another 2 seasons at 1.5 each? Wipe Landry and Kaman’s expensive contracts off the books, amnesty Okafor and we have a team loaded with talent and no bad contracts. Demps is doing a fine job, just wait until next season.

  10. Great news for Benson, the Hornets, and the city of NOLA. Benson is one smart businessman. He is building an empire in downtown NOLA, just wait to see what it looks like around the Arena and Dome in another 5 years. He is sitting on a gold mine, I don’t think he is done with the Dome, Arena, Champion Square, and Benson Tower. This is only the beginning. So glad to be a part of it. “New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home.”

    Looking forward to hearing the 247 crew’s thoughts on Benson owning the team. Special podcast this weekend????

    • We always had every chance in the world: he’ll be restricted as long as we offer him a qualifying deal (at least 1y, just over $5m for him) and he doesn’t sign it. Should this happen as described, the Hornets can match any offer made to him.

      Should we not offer, he’s an unrestricted free agent (just like most you see around the Association). Should he accept the deal, he’s bound to him, then free . . . so it’s a short term fix, but a sign he wants out bad, which could lower any trade value.


  11. I’m hoping that Benson has learned that you get what you pay for. I love Rita because she knows how to get things done. I’m also hoping that Benson will allow Demps and Williams to work the plan they have in process. Demps came into an ugly mess put on his gloves and started to cleanup. With CP3 and David West joined at the hip to get out of NOLA because they were angry about Tyson Chandler being traded and no ownership, Demps did what he had to do with Stern acting as owner on behalf of the NBA. Questionable moves? He was trying to upgrade the team and thankfully at market value. How many times have the Hornets paid premium dollar for sub-par talent? Let’s just celebrate the ownership change, look forward to the draft and the offseason. I think things are really looking up for our franchise. But, can we can the change of uniform colors to black and gold? I hope they show brilliance by developing the Hornets brand independent of the Saints.

  12. I like the deal… I hope he keeps Dell and Monty because the team will have a major roster change next year with Landry,Kaman, and Belli all on 1 year deals and i think its worth about 24 million(if I’m not mistaken?). So they can sign better players and make trades and plus with 2 of the top 10 picks it can be something special.

    Another thing on the entertainment note.. I can see championship square becoming an sports entertainment district with the renovations to the arena that will be done.

    I like the deal lets just hope Tom spends the $ to make us a contender every year.

    • Hope we draft Micheal Kidd Gilchrist and Kendell Marshall. We would a scoring option and somebody to dish him the ball, who knows that tandom could be a Westbrook-Durant type players but maybe better fit for each other.

  13. Yes!

    I’d like to see them keep Monty and Dell. I thought the original Paul deal was really shrewd in terms of making us immediately competitive, the 2nd one was the best in terms of making the team easier to sell.

    Regardless of how folks feel about Monty and Dell, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now that we have an owner and can concentrate on building a team capable of winning a title.

  14. Thank you Tom Benson for stepping up and buying this team. Unlike Gary Chouest and Raj Bhathal, Benson was willing to pony up the extra cash needed to get a deal done and ensure that the Hornets remain in N.O. for the long haul. Yes, I know there is a downside to Benson owning the team: Now the Hornets will always be the Saints’ “little brother,” and they’ll always be #2 on Benson’s priority list, but given a choice I’d rather see the Hornets stay in NOLA and be the Saints’ little brother rather than see them pack up and move to Seattle. Thanks, Tom. You’ve saved basketball in N.O. Geaux Hornets! The future is bright!!!!!

    • I don’t think the whole “little brother” tag is a given. First the Saints aren’t Tom Benson priority he has turned over the decision making. The faith of the basketball franchise will rest in the hands of the people Benson and co. hire to run the show. Trust me they will not be happy being the Saints “little bros”.

  15. For everybody who’s talking about how well off we are salary and roster wise under Demps look what our roster/cap would look like next year 2012/13 if the original Paul deal would have gone through.

    Martin 12.9mil
    Scola 9.4mil
    Odom 8.2(team option)
    Okafor 13.5
    Ariza 7.2
    Smith 2.5
    Ayon 1.5
    Henry 2.3
    Vasquez 1.1

    And Dragic the only good put of the trade would be an FA.

    I don’t think we realise how bad off we would be. Scola and Martin would add another 22+mil to our cap next year and that’s if we didn’t pick up Odom’s last year.

  16. Not a fan of Tom Benson, but I prefer him over Mr. Swimsuit any day. Hopefully Rita will run the Hornets, too.

  17. I’m not sure how I feel about this news. It certainly is nice that the uncertainty can be put to rest (presumably for at least 12 years). There certainly are a number of pros with Benson owning the team. The cons I am most concerned with are the monopoly issue and how he will manage this organization. Until the success of the 2006 season Benson wasn’t exactly regarded as the savior of New Orleans Saints football. He has a product in the Superdome that basically sells itself at this point (not always the case). He will need to understand the dynamic of fan and sponsor acquisition and retention in the world of the NBA. One of the primary reasons I have maintained Hornets season tickets for the last 4 years is the excellent job the Hornets and particularly my season ticket representative have done in making me feel connected to this team. There is a genuine appreciation of the time and financial commitment season ticket holders make to “be in”. I hope that Tom Benson the car dealer doesn’t rear his head in the way the Hornets engage fans.

    • Agree. I give Tom Benson no credit for turning the Saints around, and it pisses me off to hear people laud the good they think he’s done for the organization. After Katrina he wanted to move the team to San Antonio where he lives (for most of the time) and does business. Outside forces stifled that attempted move and his granddaughter righted the ship.

      That said, you have to believe he’s learned his lesson about what it takes to run a successful franchise, and hopefully the Benson regime brings that knowledge to the Hornets.

      I also agree about the customer service bit when it comes to season tickets. The Saints treat you like you’re lucky to give them thousands of dollars. The Hornets act a lot more appreciative.

      All in all, though, this is great news for the team, the city, the state, and the region.

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