Commissioner David Stern says the NBA is close to finalizing a deal to keep the Hornets in New Orleans with a very favorable lease, important capital improvements, intense tax benefits and a new television deal.
Stern made the comments Wednesday night before Utah's against Phoenix. He is in Salt Lake City for a luncheon that in part will honor late Jazz owner Larry H. Miller.
Stern prefaced his comments by telling a joke, saying ''soon'' when asked about the Hornets' deal.
But he said the league was in intense negotiations with three groups. He was hopeful he could tell team owners at a meeting next week that the deal was done, close or that he was on the verge of a deal.