NEWORLEANS- A person familiar with negotiations says Hornets sale talks between George Shinn and minority owner Gary Chouest have reached an 'impasse' and that Shinn now wants tospeak with other possible buyers.

Shinn's preference is to deal only with investors who want tokeep the Hornets in New Orleans, the person told The AssociatedPress on Friday, speaking on the condition of anonymity becauseShinn and Chouest have yet to publicly discuss the sale.

Shinn, who underwent recent treatment for prostate cancer, hassaid he wants to focus more on his charity work, his faith andwrite a book.

Chouest, who bought 25 percent of the club in 2007, owns aLouisiana company that builds and operates boats for the offshoreenergy industry. Chouest has yet to acknowledge publicly that hewants to buy the team or what his vision for the club would be.

However, he did not deny that negotiations were ongoing whenapproached during halftime of one of the Hornets' final regularseason home games, saying only that he had no comment at that time.

When Chouest first bought into the club as a minority ownerthree seasons ago, he described himself as a basketball junkie whowanted to do his part to ensure the club's long-term future in hishome state Louisiana.

A woman who answered the phone at Chouest's business, EdisonChouest offshore in Galliano, said Chouest was in his office Fridayafternoon but not available to talk. He did not return a messageleft on his voicemail.

A message left for Shinn at Hornets headquarters in downtown NewOrleans also was not returned.

The new uncertainties about the Hornets' ownership situationcomes as the club tries to find a new head coach. Jeff Bower, whotook over as coach this past season when Byron Scott was fired, hasmoved back full-time to his general manager's post and is leadingthe coaching search along with team president Hugh Weber.

Weber and Bower both said earlier this week that Chouest andShinn were being kept in the loop on the search and that a newcoach wouldn't be hired without their approval.

Weber and Bower said they have spoken informally with therepresentatives of several candidates. They did not disclose whothose candidates were, but reportedly have spoken torepresentatives of Avery Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doug Collins.

Weber and Bower also said finding the right coach could meanwaiting until a number of teams have been eliminated from theplayoffs in order for the Hornets to have permission to speak tocoaches with clubs currently playing in the postseason.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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