Hornets owner wants team to stay put next year

Updated: January 28, 2006, 9:30 PM ET
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn said Saturday the team should remain in Oklahoma City next season.

"Right now, I think everybody's got to accept the fact that New Orleans is not ready for this coming season," Shinn said. "They're not ready, so we should play in Oklahoma City next year, and then start working and putting everything together to come back."

I feel like the guy that's got two women that's fighting over him. It would be nice if it was two women instead of two states."
Hornets owner George Shinn

The NBA said that commissioner David Stern has planned to announce a decision on the Hornets' status by the end of this month.

"The NBA said we'll be announcing it at the end of the month, and I'm predicting a few days after that," Shinn said before the Hornets played the Memphis Grizzlies. "The end of the month is not until Tuesday, I think, so just hold your breath until then."

The Times-Picayune reported Saturday that the Hornets would be based in Oklahoma City next season and play "a handful of games" in New Orleans.

Shinn initially downplayed the report and continually referred to the legal wrangling between his representatives and the state, at one point saying lawyers are "overpaid and underworked."

Shinn added that the Hornets have "already agreed" to play six games in New Orleans next season, but as for the rest of the matter, nothing is settled. He said until he hears from his attorney or the NBA, "that a deal's done, there's no deal."

The Hornets have played almost all of their games this season in Oklahoma City because of the damage to New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina.

Coach Byron Scott said last week he also hopes the Hornets remain in Oklahoma City next season.

Shinn said the Hornets have a signed lease to play in New Orleans and he will honor that, but he wants to make sure the agreement is fair to all parties, including himself. And with the city's future uncertain, he wants to make sure he is not forced into something unfair to his franchise.

"What if next October there's 10 feet of water in the city?" Shinn asked. "You expect me to come back? Give me a break. Just be reasonable about things. That's all I'm asking."

Shinn expects his attorneys, and possibly even himself, to continue discussing the deal with Louisiana officials. Shinn said he is even willing to fly to Baton Rouge early next week to discuss the matter with Gov. Kathleen Blanco. And, at times, he sounded frustrated by the process.

"I feel like the guy that's got two women that's fighting over him," Shinn said. "It would be nice if it was two women instead of two states."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press