Just as his team is mounting a defense to the Golden State Warriors with the acquisition of All-Star point guard Chris Paul, Houston Rockets majority owner Leslie Alexander has said he is selling the NBA franchise.
Rockets CEO Tad Brown announced the news in a press conference this afternoon.
"It's been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years," Alexander, 74, said in a statement released by the team. "I've had the incredible opportunity to witness true greatness through the players and coaches who have won championships for the city, been named to All-Star and All-NBA teams, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and done so much for our franchise and our fans. And the Houston community has been home to me."
Brown said there is “no rush” to sell the team.
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The Rockets were ranked as the eighth most valuable NBA franchise, according to Forbes’s most recent evaluation, with a dollar amount of $1.65 billion. That’s almost 20 times more valuable than the $85 million Alexander spent to purchase the team in 1993.
NBA franchises have surged in value in the past few years. The Los Angeles Clippers, a perennial loser in the league, were sold for $2 billion in 2014 to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer after the NBA forced then-owner Donald Sterling to relinquish the team. The NBA took action after Sterling was famously recorded discussing his disdain for his then mistress's relationships with African-American players.
An ownership sale must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors, which is composed by team owners from throughout the league. New NBA franchises must pay a fee to existing teams, but this applies only to expansion teams.
Any group looking at the Rockets is acquiring them at an ideal time. James Harden made the All-NBA first team for his efforts last season and recently inked a $170 million extension to remain with the Rockets through 2023. He will be joined next season by Paul, largely considered one of the league’s best point guards.