Rockets Owner Says He Won't Sell Team Amid Reports of Financial Trouble

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By , SportsRadio 610

(SportsRadio 610) -- Perhaps no other NBA CEO is struggling more through the financial crisis prompted by COVID-19 than the Rockets' Tilman Fertitta. 

It's been well-documented Fertitta -- a billionaire restaurant, hotel and casino businessman -- furloughed 45,000 employees and borrowed $300,000 million at 13 percent interest to help brace for the economic downturn.

The Rockets have not been affected like Landry's Inc., or its Golden Nugget casinos, where Fertitta is reportedly losing more than $2 million a day. 

But in NBA circles, Fertitta is who executives, agents and fellow owners point to as the one who could face the most financial trouble.

Feritta furloughed nearly 75 percent of his workforce before Texas Gov. Greg Abbott partially reopened the state to allow businesses to operate at 25-percent capacity.

Fertitta was part of the group to help advise the governor on how to reopen the state.

While it's been suggested Fertitta take on ownership partners, or consider selling the team, Fertitta told The Athletic's Sam Amick he's not considering either as an option.

Related |  Lopez: Fertitta Should Sell The Rockets Or Take Partners

Fertitta, who's always good for a colorful quote, told Amick he wouldn't sell the Rockets "unless the whole world came to an end and then it wouldn’t matter" and he'd only sell "because we don’t exist anymore as a country with the rule of law. We’re having anarchy in the street, and at that point there’s no buyers."

He touted recovering from financial crises in 1987, 2000 and 2007. 

"Why not buy even more insurance? I have a huge amount of liquidity, and a lot of different sources of income," Fertitta told The Athletic. "I’m not happy right now (with the financial impact), but I haven’t taken an equity partner, I didn’t have to give up warrants to borrow money. …"

Fertitta, a 62-year-old Galveston native with an estimated $4.9 billion fortune, had an annual payroll of $1.5 billion at Landry's. 

The Rockets' payroll is $130 million, which is 13th in the NBA. 

Fertitta insists the Rockets have no financial problem, despite the issues elsewhere. 

He pointed out the team is building a new practice facility and he just bought a 767 plane for the team's players. 

The Rockets business is "in a silo" of its own, according to Fertitta. 

“The Rockets are sitting on a huge revolver and a bunch of cash right now," he told The Atheltic. "And the Rockets are able to build up cash because nobody has to take it out to live on.”

Fertitta's main concern right now is balancing the economic benefits of  reopening his Texas restaurants at 25 percent capacity.

There is the fear they open and no one shows up, or that bringing in the labor and restocking coolers may not be worth it for only a quarter of its potential.