Sacramento Kings Reportedly Close to Being Sold to Seattle-Based Group

Alex KayCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2013

After years of rampant rumors and wild speculation as to what may happen to the struggling Sacramento Kings, the Seattle-based Hansen-Ballmer investment group is reportedly on the verge of purchasing the team for $500 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

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

UPDATE: Monday, January 14 at 1:45 p.m ET by Timothy Rapp

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the league held a conference call with the relocation committee in regard to the Kings' proposed move to Seattle:

The call detailed what NBA officials described as "a non-binding set of deal points" on a $525 million sale of majority ownership to the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group, sources said.

Discussions have continued in the past week to push the purchase to toward completion and ultimately clear the way for the franchise to move to Seattle, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The call took place on Tuesday—one day before Yahoo! Sports reported the finalizing of a deal—and informed several league owners that the Hansen-Ballmer Seattle group would purchase 65 percent of the Kings, sources said. The league office told members of the relocation committee that the non-binding agreement would constitute 53 percent of the franchise owned by the Maloof family and an additional 12 percent from minority owner Bob Hernreich.

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Friday, January 11 at 12:45 p.m e.t by Michael Cahill

Matt Steinmetz of Comcast Sportnet Bay Area is reporting that the sale of the Kings is done. 

Steinmetz reports via Sulia.com

I've heard from reliable source that the Kings' sale to Hansen-Ballmer in Seattle is done deal. Source said price

of the sale is $525 million. The source said further that the Maloofs will have no stake or decision-making with Seattle team and are out.

There has been no official word from Kings ownership or the NBA at this time. 

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--End of Update--

UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 10, 6:14 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney

According to the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, the Maloof family's want to stay involved with the team is holding up current negotiations with Seattle's potential ownership group. 

The family that owns the Sacramento Kings wants to maintain a say in how the team is run if they sell it to Chris Hansen, creating a possible snag in the sale negotiation, an NBA source told The Seattle Times.

An initial Yahoo! Sports report on the sale, since confirmed by others, is that the family would retain a small percentage in the team. But the question now, according to the source, is whether that percentage also would allow the Maloofs some say in how the team is run.

The source said it goes beyond dollars and cents and stressed how important being involved in the NBA has been to the family.

---End of update---


UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 10, 4:01 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway

It looks as if the city of Seattle can put the champagne back on ice. According to Bryan May of KXTV-TV, George Maloof said an agreement to sell the Kings is "not close":

George Maloof tells News10 a deal to sell the Kings to Seattle group is not close.

— Bryan May (@BMayNews10) January 10, 2013

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 10, 11 a.m. ET by Alex Kay

According to Jake Whittenberg with KING 5 News in Seattle, there is an internal dispute between the members of the Maloof family over this proposed deal.

Affiliate KCRA is reporting there's division among the Maloof family members over whether to sell the #Sacramento #Kings. #SeattleArena

— JakeWhittenberg (@jakewhittenberg) January 10, 2013

We'll keep you updated if anything further breaks on this developing story.

---End of update---

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 4 p.m. ET by Richard Langford

Hold the phone. While this deal has been reported as being on the verge of completion, there may still be some serious negotiating left to do. 

Steve Large of CBS Sacramento offered up this tweet. 

Source: Seattle groups offer was rejected by Maloofs. Hmmm. Plot thickening by the minute.

— stevelarge_cbs13 (@largesteven) January 9, 2013

Given all of the reports of this deal being done, my guess is that if there is a hang-up, it's a small one.

Also pointing to this deal not being done is a report by USA Today's Sam Amick. Amick reports that, according to sources, the minority owners of the Kings had not been informed of any sale as of Wednesday morning. 

He also reports that the league told other owners not to comment on the Kings situation. 

---End of update---

The investors apparently have grandiose plans to relocate the organization to the Emerald City (according to Wojnarowski), filling a basketball vacancy in an area that was devastated when the Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City to become the Thunder back in 2008.

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

It’s unknown if the Kings will change their name, but there’s a strong chance they will become the latest rendition of the SuperSonics (as Thunder owner Clay Bennett agreed to turn over the rights to the name to any new owner in Seattle) and could begin play in the state of Washington as early as the 2013-14 season.

Investor Chris Hansen has long been at the forefront of Seattle’s efforts to bring an NBA franchise back into the city and recently took on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as a partner in this endeavor.

It’s important to note that this deal isn't finalized yet, as Aaron Bruski of ProBasketballTalk.com is reporting that Joe and Gavin Maloof—the team’s principle owners— have a number of interested buyers. Some may be willing to match or beat Hansen-Ballmer’s offer in order to keep the organization in Sacramento.

There are more requirements that need to be met before any sale can become official as well, and one of these steps is an approval by someone that nearly every basketball fan in Seattle hates, according to Bruski's sources:

There are other hurdles for the deal to clear, including an up-or-down vote from the Board of Governors after a recommendation by the league’s relocation committee, headed up by none other than Clay Bennett. Bennett saw firsthand the difference in how the Seattle politicians turned their back on the Sonics when he arrived, independent of his and the league’s mishandling of that situation, and he has been extremely impressed with Sacramento’s efforts to keep their team.

Ballmer and his group do have the commissioner on their side, as David Stern is reportedly on the record stating he would be willing to expedite any sales that involve a potential move to bring the NBA back to Seattle.

Bruski also found that this offer is over $200 million more than what Forbes valuated the team to be worth (a reported $300 million), and that might scare potential bidders away. 

Regardless of who eventually winds up with the team (and it's highly likely to be Hansen-Balmer, as Wojnarowski tweeted a source comparing the deal to a "1st-and-goal from the 1" in terms of being completed), it is clear that the Maloofs are finally willing to part ways with the franchise after exploring various options over the past few years.

No agreement signed, but one source describes deal as "1st and goal at 1." Maloofs history of changing course late still makes many uneasy.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013

It’s about time the Kings were handed over to a new ownership group, as the Maloofs have proven incapable of running this organization properly and recently became more interested in relocating or selling over actually winning.

It wasn’t always like that, especially after the Maloofs purchased a majority control of the Kings back in 1998.

Their ownership ushered in a new era of Sacramento basketball. The Maloofs helped turn the franchise around and were a catalyst for numerous playoff runs over their first eight seasons.

However, the team never made it farther than the Western Conference Finals—back in 2002, when they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Things have been even worse as of late, considering the slumping organization hasn’t won more than 38 games since 2007-08 and is in the midst of a seven-year postseason drought that doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.

Hopefully, the Hansen-Ballmer partnership will have the same sort of impact that the Maloofs initially did on this club, and that they will finally find a modicum of success in Seattle.

There are plenty of puzzle pieces already on the roster, with the talented but troubled DeMarcus Cousins headlining the list of young, potential stars currently on the Kings' payroll.

It’s certainly going to take time and patience to mold this group into winners, but hopefully the new owners will provide the organization with the proper resources to make it happen.

It's been a nice run in Sacramento, but fans are eager to see basketball and the SuperSonics (or whatever the team winds up being called) back in Seattle.


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