Though the deal still has to be finalized, it looks like NBA basketball is finally coming back to Seattle. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Maloof family is close to selling the Sacramento Kings to an ownership group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer:
The Maloofs are finalizing an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer led Seattle group, sources tell Yahoo! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013
Per Wojnarowski, the deal will reportedly be for $500 million and the Kings will move to Seattle starting with the 2013-14 season:
The deal will sell the Kings for approximately $500 million, with the Seattle group seeking relocation to Key Arena for the 2013-'14 season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013
Obviously, this is massive news on more than one front. The Hansen-Ballmer group has long sought after a team to bring back NBA basketball to Seattle after the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder.
The Thunder's move to OKC was met with understandable scorn and a grassroots campaign began to bring NBA basketball back to Seattle started almost instantly. The movement produced a documentary and plenty of other fan involvement, but really took hold when the city agreed to build a new arena back in September.
With an agreement seemingly ready to go, it looks like Seattle's five-year window without their Sonics has ended.
However, it also marks the end of an era in Sacramento. The Kings have been in California's capital city since 1985 and have a fanbase that is undoubtedly sullen as Seattle fans are ecstatic.
As it's wont to do, Twitter exploded with the news of the Kings' impending sale. With that in mind, let's take a look at all the best tweets from around the web.
Current Philadelphia 76ers and former Kings center Spencer Hawes went on a rollercoaster of emotions, both jazzed up about the return of basketball in Seattle and sullen about Sacramento's loss:
Do you believe in miracles!!!— Spencer Hawes (@spencerhawes00) January 9, 2013
Suuuuuuuuuppperrrrrrrrrr...— Spencer Hawes (@spencerhawes00) January 9, 2013
I feel terribly for the fans in Sacramento on a day like today. Always the class of the entire league. It's difficult to watch a city that— Spencer Hawes (@spencerhawes00) January 9, 2013
Though there is much excitement throughout the metro Seattle Area, Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard took the time out to give condolences to fans in Sacramento:
Love the city of Seattle, but there are few better NBA fans - if any - than those in Sacramento. Deserved better than this— Chris Ballard (@SI_ChrisBallard) January 9, 2013
Fans in Kansas City were also disappointed, many of whom wanted their Kings to return as well. Danny Parkins of 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City sent out a disappointed sentiment that many in Missouri are likely feeling at the moment:
So much for the pipe dream of the return of the Kansas City Kings... All 7 of us NBA fans in KC continue to struggle.— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) January 9, 2013
Meanwhile, Sports Pickle's Twitter feed sent out a playful jab at the Seattle fans who were once so upset that Oklahoma City took their team:
I assume the good people of Seattle will refuse to take another city's sports team out of principle? twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/st…— SportsPickle (@sportspickle) January 9, 2013
Sports Pickle's Twitter feed wasn't alone. The folks at Hardwood Paroxysm also wondered about the ethics of Seattle taking another city's franchise:
Sacramento fans supported Seattle fans and hated the Bennett shenanigans as much as anyone. "THANKS SO MUCH, GIVE US YOUR TEAM."— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 9, 2013
For those wondering about Clay Bennett's ownership of the Sonics name, the Oklahoma City owner reportedly agreed to hand it over to a new Seattle group for free as part of his agreement, per Royce Young of CBS Sports:
Clay Bennett owns the SuperSonics name and logo, but under the settlement, agreed to turn it over to a new Seattle owner at no cost.— Royce Young (@dailythunder) January 9, 2013
With that news, ESPN's Arash Markazi is raring to go for the inevitable Thunder-Sonics matchup next season:
Can I already circle the Thunder-Sonics game on my 2013-14 NBA calendar?— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 9, 2013
Markazi also had something that should excite Seattle fans everywhere: The first (photoshopped) picture of Tyreke Evans in a Sonics uniform:
Some weren't as overjoyed. Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal wondered if the cellar-dwelling Kings may be better off creating a super-team with two other struggling NBA franchises:
Can't the Kings just be folded into the Wizards? And the Bobcats? Seriously.— Jason Gay (@jasonWSJ) January 9, 2013
Considering the financial situation of the Kings, Grantland's Zach Lowe was also shocked, but more at the price of the team more than anything:
$500 million is truly an incredible purchase price for the Kings. We're less than 1 year removed from the Maloofs weeping after All-Star.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 9, 2013
Though there were many thoughts across the Twittersphere, perhaps it was NFL.com's Albert Breer who summed up the reported sale best:
Wow ... Per @wojyahoonba, Seattle is getting basketball back.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 9, 2013
In the end, the NBA's return to Seattle will ultimately be what the city makes of it. The Kings aren't a great team and have a ton of rebuilding to do in the future, but Seattle may be the one place that is basketball-hungry enough to let that happen.