Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has reached an agreement to sell the team to Houston billionaire TilmanFertitta for an NBA-record $2.2 billion, according to multiple reports on Tuesday morning.
The reported $2.2 billion price tag would exceed the previous NBA record of $2 billion, which former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. Fertitta will presumably be the lead investor of the ownership group purchasing the Rockets from Alexander, who surprisingly put the team up for sale in mid-July. Alexander purchased the NBA franchise for $85 million in July 1993.
“He’s just been tired,” Rockets CEO Tad Brown said of Alexander’s decision. “I’m sure many of you (reporters) who know him well can probably sense that. It’s a grind. And even now, things are ratcheted up even that much more with the expectations and the ability to really go deep and compete. It’s been tough. So, I think he just had a real good conversation with his family, and some of his close, close friends, and he just decided it was time for him to make another change in his life.”
Still entrenched in the community of the nation’s fourth-largest city, Alexander recently pledged $10 million to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. The sale to Fertitta, a native of Galveston, Texas, will ensure the organization stays in the hands of an owner invested in Houston.
The Rockets won 55 games last season and reached the Western Conference semifinals behind James Harden’s MVP-caliber campaign. The team traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul in June and gave Harden the richest contract extension in history, cementing Houston as a championship contender.