We've obtained audited financial data for David Stern's new prize, the New Orleans Hornets. The statements cover 2008 and 2009, and among other things they paint a picture of a team already in hock to the NBA.

Two things jump out, at least to this layman's eyes: the team's operating income, which in 2008 was a $6.4 million loss and in 2009 was a $5.9 million gain (slide 11), though that latter figures includes $3.4 million in revenue assistance from the NBA (slide 28); and the team's net cash in operating activities, which represents the "measurement of money [owner George Shinn] is being asked to take out of his pocket to keep operations going," according to sports economist Andrew Zimbalist. In 2008, that amount was $7.4 million; in 2009, $1.4 million (slide 13). Zimbalist points out that "things got much more problematic for the franchise" the following year.

Also of note: As of June 30, 2009, the partners' deficit totaled $83 million (slide 14). The team's share of national broadcast rights payments was $26 million in 2008 and $28 million in 2009 (slide 28). And in 2008, the Hornets were told they had received revenue-sharing money in error for the 2005-06 season — $2.8 million, by the looks of it (slide 27). The money was paid back in 2009.

We'll have more on this later.

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