So your favorite team is getting a new owner. What now?

After 13 years in the boss’s seat, Michael Jordan has decided to sell his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets to Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall. He’ll maintain a minority share in the team and will likely have a voice when it comes to big decisions by the team, but otherwise he’ll be out of the limelight and out of the day to day operations of the organization.

The reaction to the news is mostly positive. On a personal level, kudos to MJ for making a huge profit on the acquisition and sale of the team. That’s just good business. On the basketball side, fans are excited for a fresh voice after generally unfavorable reviews of Jordan as an executive. But is that a reasonable expectation? Do teams really change all that much under new ownership? Do you appreciate me asking myself questions to answer in my own article? Let’s see.

The Hornets are the second team to be sold in 2023 after Mat Ishbia took over as the owner of the Phoenix Suns (and Mercury) in February of this year. He made his mark immediately by catalyzing the Kevin Durant trade. The Suns had been working with the Nets to acquire the future Hall of Famer, but the deal was on its last legs before Ishbia stepped in and pushed the deal forward. The jury is still out on if that will prove to be a successful venture, but it shows how much of an impact a new owner, or any owner for that matter, can make on the basketball decisions of the organization.

The other recent ownership changes were more subtle. Ryan Smith took over the Jazz in 2021. He gave an executive job to Danny Ainge and had to replace Quin Snyder after his resignation, but from an outside perspective, the trajectory of the Jazz wasn’t altered much by his arrival. The sale of the Nets to Joe Tsai had similarly muted effects.

The Hornets are in a state of flux already, and the head coach/general manager pairing of Steve Clifford and Mitch Kupchak would have been on a shaky ground regardless of who owned the team. If the Hornets don’t have success this season, both are probably out. That would likely would have been the case if Jordan was still in charge, but it’s even more likely the case with a new ownership group at the helm. And the new owners probably don’t care as much about hiring people that went to UNC.

New ownership will probably bring with it new enthusiasm for improvement. Whenever anyone takes over any entity, they want to make their mark on it one way or another. There’s no way to know how that’ll look yet, but I’m sure it’ll be something.

The other major fan concern when a team is sold is the permanence of the team’s location. Every time a team is sold, rumors swirl about relocation. However, that’s rarely the case. The Kings flirted with a move to Seattle in the early 2010s, but the sale to Vivek Ranadive ensured they’d stay put in Sacramento. The Hornets are in no such danger though. The team’s lease with Spectrum Center runs through 2045, and the team and the city are working together to renovate the arena and construct a new practice facility across the street. If that doesn’t assuage your concerns enough, the ownership group also includes local celebrities J Cole and Eric Church as well as other Charlotte-based investors. The team isn’t going anywhere.


New ownership doesn’t necessarily mean immediate, wide sweeping changes in the basketball operations. Everyone’s seats will get warmer, but they’ll get a chance to prove themselves before changes are made. And their seats were probably already warm to begin with, so not much change there. There may be fresh enthusiasm from the new bosses though.

The team isn’t relocating because of contractual obligations and local ownership ties, so nothing to worry about there.

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