2:58pm: The Rockets have formally issued a press release announcing that the franchise is for sale. Alexander said in a statement that it’s been a”great joy and honor” to own the team for the last 24 years.
“I’ve made this decision after much deliberation with my family and friends, and do so knowing the franchise is in great shape with the players, coaches and management team in place,” Alexander said. “CEO Tad Brown will oversee the sales process with the league office, supported by my management team.”
2:26pm: An NBA franchise is officially on the market. Rockets CEO Tad Brown announced today at a press conference that owner Leslie Alexander is putting the team – along with Clutch City Sports & Entertainment – up for sale (video link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston).
According to Brown, Alexander had been approached about selling the Rockets from time to time over the years, but had never really considered it until now. Brown went on to suggest that Alexander, after talking to family and close friends, is looking at “changing the fabric of his life” and focusing on different passions. Brown made it clear that Alexander isn’t dealing with any health issues (Twitter link).
As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets, the Rockets would prefer the timeline for a sale to be “sooner rather than later.” However, the club isn’t in a rush, since a stable management team is in place, Brown said today.
People around the NBA have been wondering for some time which owner or ownership group would be the first to cash out after a substantial rise in team valuations over the last several years, tweets Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Still, Alexander’s decision didn’t just come as a surprise to people around the NBA — it also surprised those within the Rockets’ franchise, says ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
Many NBA franchises sold within the last decade have been smaller-market clubs, including the Kings ($534MM in 2013) and Bucks ($550MM in 2014). The Hawks ($850MM in 2015) could be another reference point. Of course, Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion for the Clippers in 2014 — I’d expect the Rockets’ sale price to be closer to that figure than the others, and potentially even higher.
Even back in February, before the Rockets won a playoff series, traded for Chris Paul, and extended James Harden, Forbes placed a $1.65 billion valuation on the franchise, and Forbes’ estimates are often low. Alexander bought the team for $85MM back in 1993, Feigen notes (Twitter link).