9:45am: The Hornets have put out a press release confirming that Jordan has reached an agreement to sell the majority share of the franchise to a group led by Plotkin and Schnall. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the team is being valued at approximately $3 billion in the sale.
In addition to the names listed below, the new ownership group will include tech investor Ian Loring and several North Carolina natives, including recording artists J. Cole and Eric Church, per the Hornets.
The team added that Schnall is in the process of selling his minority stake in the Hawks, which will likely be completed within the next few weeks.
9:04am: Hornets owner Michael Jordan is selling his majority share of the franchise, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports that Jordan is in the process of finalizing a deal with a group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall.
Plotkin is a current minority stakeholder in the Hornets, while Schnall held a minority share of the Hawks. They’ll become the new team governors in Charlotte once the sale is completed and approved by the NBA, says Wojnarowski, adding that an agreement is expected to be reached soon.
Jordan assumed majority control of the Hornets back in 2010, completing a deal that was based on a reported valuation of $275MM. While it’s not clear yet what he’ll sell for, Forbes estimated last October that the franchise was worth $1.7 billion, and those projections often undershoot actual sale prices.
Charlotte’s NBA franchise, which reentered the NBA as the expansion Bobcats in 2004 before being rebranded as the Hornets in 2014, made the playoffs just three times during Jordan’s tenure as majority owner and didn’t win a postseason series.
According to Wojnarowski, Jordan will remain involved with the Hornets, at least in the short term. He’ll continue to oversee basketball operations during the draft and the start in free agency in the coming weeks. Even after completing the sale, the six-time NBA champion is expected to retain a minority stake in the team, sources tell ESPN.
Word broke three months ago that Jordan was mulling the possibility of giving up control of the Hornets to a group led by Plotkin and Schnall. A story last month indicated that he may have been waiting until after the draft lottery to make a decision, since landing the No. 1 overall pick and the right to draft Victor Wembanyama would’ve increased the value of the franchise.
Charlotte didn’t win the draft lottery, but did come away with the next-best thing — the team controls the No. 2 pick, which could be used to draft a potential star like Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller or as the centerpiece in a trade for an established veteran star. For now, there doesn’t appear to be traction on a trade involving the No. 2 pick, though that could change by the time the Hornets are on the clock next Thursday.
Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported yesterday that Charlotte is trying to bring Henderson and Miller back to town this coming Monday to meet with Jordan, adding that all signs point toward the club choosing between those two players if it keeps its lottery pick. The Hornets have kept the reps for Henderson and Miller apprised on the ownership situation, tweets Fischer.
Besides Plotkin and Schnall, the Hornets’ new ownership team will include Hornets minority owner Daniel Sundheim, who is part of the purchasing group, says Wojnarowski.
A source tells Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link) that private equity form Dyal HomeCourt Partners is also expected to be involved in the group. Dyal also has stakes in the Hawks and Kings and had one in the Suns before cashing out in February when Mat Ishbia bought the franchise, says Vorkunov.
It remains to be seen how the Hornets’ ownership change might affect the team on and off the court going forward — head coach Steve Clifford and president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak are among those in leadership roles whose futures could be impacted. For what it’s worth, Fischer notes (via Twitter) that Schnall was believed to be involved in basketball operations during his time as a Hawks minority owner.