The NBA’s days as an owner of the New Orleans Hornets are drawing to a close. The league reached a tentative agreement early Friday morning with New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson to buy the team for $338 million, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

The league chose Benson, who will be purchasing the team by himself, over a group of investors including businessman Raj Bhathal and former NBA head coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy, and former minority owner Gary Chouest, who had tried unsuccessfully to buy the team from majority owner George Shinn three years ago. The Bhathal group also included Larry Benson, Tom Benson’s younger brother.

The New Orleans Times Picayune first reported the sale to Tom Benson on its website this morning.

Benson would be allowed under the NFL’s rules to buy the Hornets. That sport prohibits cross ownership, the rule that prompted the Denver Nuggets’ former primary owner, Stan Kroenke, to transfer ownership of the Nuggets to his son, Josh, when Stan Kroenke obtained a majority ownership stake of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

– Reported by David Aldridge of