Update: The Rockets have announced the sale:
The Houston Rockets today announced that a definitive agreement has been signed for the purchase of the NBA franchise by Houston businessman Tilman J. Fertitta, sole owner of the Landry’s restaurant empire and Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels. The transaction, which includes operation of the Toyota Center Arena, requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, and Mr. Fertitta has no other partners in connection with the transaction.
This process started back in July, and it is truly unfortunate that this announcement is occurring amidst the aftermath of one of the biggest tragedies in the history of our great City.
“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets. This is a life-long dream come true,” said Fertitta, a native of Galveston and life-long resident of the Houston area. “Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity. He has the heart of a champion. Lastly, out of respect for the NBA’s approval process, I can say no more other than I am overwhelmed with emotion to have this opportunity in my beloved city of Houston.”
“I am excited to welcome and pass the torch to Tilman. He is a Houstonian, business leader and committed to the success and excellence of the Rockets both on and off the basketball court,” said Leslie Alexander, the current Rockets owner. “I have personally known Tilman for over 24 years and don’t think I could have found anyone more capable of continuing the winning tradition of our Houston Rockets.”
In 2014, Steve Ballmer paid a stunning $2 billion to buy the Clippers.
That record price for an NBA franchise has been broken.
Marc Berman of Fox 26:
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) September 5, 2017
Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg
— Scott Soshnick (@soshnick) September 5, 2017
Leslie Alexander selling the Rockets surprised everyone. But apparently Tilman Fertitta wasn’t slow to react – to the benefit of Alexander, who bought the team for $85 million in 1993.
Fertitta – who owns Golden Nugget Casinos and Landry’s restaurant company and hosts “Billion Dollar Buyer” on CNBC – is worth $3.1 billion, per Forbes. So, it seems likely he’ll have other investors. Celebrities like Beyonce and Hakeem Olajuwon have expressed interest.
The Rockets have been one of the NBA’s best teams under Alexander, winning championships in 1994 and 1995, and he further ingrained himself with the community with his Hurricane Harvey-relief donations. The team locked in James Harden to the richest contract extension in NBA history. Chris Paul will be eligible for a five-year, $207 million max contract next summer, and starting center Clint Capela will also be a free agent. With expensive but not easily movable Ryan Anderson still under contract, this team could get expensive in a hurry.
After years of steady leadership from Alexander, we’ll quickly learn Fertitta’s ownership style.