By Alex Del Barrio

HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown announced on Monday at Toyota Center that owner Leslie Alexander has expressed his intent to sell the franchise along with Clutch City Sports and Entertainment after 24 years of ownership. The process towards finding a new buyer have already begun and Brown will head up that process alongside the NBA league office.

Alexander was not present at the announcement.

Alexander said in a statement,

“It’s been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years,” said Alexander.  “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; I will continue to support the charities I have made commitments to throughout the years.  I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the fans, partners, city officials and employees who care so deeply for this team.  I’ve made this decision after much deliberation with my family and friends, and do so knowing the franchise is in great shape with the players, coaches and management team in place.  CEO Tad Brown will oversee the sales process with the league office, supported by my management team.”

Alexander, purchased the franchise in 1993 and was owner during the franchise’s two championship seasons in 1994 and 1995. Despite threats to move the franchise due to unfavorable lease terms in the team’s former home Compaq Center, he was instrumental in the building of Toyota Center in downtown Houston and is one of the crown jewel buildings in the NBA.

Alexander was also the original owner of the now defunct Houston Comets of the WNBA, a franchise that won four consecutive titles. He also owned teams in the original Arena Football league named the Texas Terror and the Houston Thunderbears. He also attempted on separate occasions to purchase an NHL franchise to bring to Houston.

There is no timetable for the sale and not a working number for a franchise valuation. Brown in the press conference said that the Forbes franchise value of $1.65 billion would be considered  “low”

The franchise has made several moves during the offseason that could impact the value and attractiveness of the franchise including signing MVP runner-up James Harden to an extension through the 2023 season, trading for 9-time all-star Chris Paul and extending General Manager Daryl Morey. Brown said that the rest of the offseason from a basketball operation perspective will not be influenced by this announcement.

Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm  Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio


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