If you’ve turned on a TV or radio today you know that there is a story permeating all genres of media that the Sacramento Kings have been to Chris Hansen’s group of future NBA owners. It seems like at this point those reports were premature, but that in some way, shape, or form the Maloofs—who presently own the Kings, and who have lost a significant portion of their fortune since the recession—are negotiating with the group.
Supposedly the Hansen group offered $500 million, and supposedly the Maloofs turned it down. Kevin Johnson is operating under the assumption—albeit feverishly—that the team hasn’t been sold yet. But they are for sale, there’s no denying that at this point.
Here’s a brief summary of what else we know, or what some people think they know, or what some people are saying they know, or whatever:
This all started January 8 when Daina Falk, the daughter of NBA agent David Falk, posted these tweets (they’ve since been deleted, hat tip to Seattle Sports Agents for taking the screen capture)
The story was significantly legitimized when Adrian Wojnarowski posted this story on Yahoo! Sports stating:
The Maloof family is finalizing an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to a group that hopes to move the franchise to Seattle for the 2013-14 season, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The deal will sell the Kings for approximately $500 million to a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer. The group is seeking to relocate the franchise to Seattle’s KeyArena for the 2013-14 season.
The Seattle group’s plans, with support of the NBA, is to play two seasons in KeyArena before moving into a new Seattle arena, sources said.
No agreement has been signed, but one source with knowledge of the talks described the deal as “first and goal at the 1.” Sources said it will take “some time” to get a formal agreement in place. The Maloofs’ history of changing course late in negotiations still has some uneasy about getting the sale completed. The Maloofs previously neared a deal with Sacramento leaders to help finance a new arena in the city before backing out.
The Maloofs are expected to keep an extremely small percentage of the team, but will have no real input or say in the franchise, sources said.
Then CBS 13 Sacramento reporter Steve Large reported that Hansen’s group’s offer had been rejected:
In the afternoon Sacramento Mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson held a press conference addressing the reports that the Maloofs were negotiating with Hansen:
In a late afternoon press conference, Johnson said he had not heard about the team’s potential sale to a Seattle investment group until today. “I can’t substantiate everything going on in Seattle. I found out when everyone else did. Some tweet went out….and everything went crazy,” he said.
But the mayor, noting the NBA’s March 1 deadline for relocation requests, said he has been working on finding potential local owners for some time. Such a group could include monied interests from outside of town, but it would need to include Sacramento members and commit to keeping the team in the capital, he said.
The Kings’ owners are engaged in talks with a Seattle investment group about a possible sale, a source told the Bee today, but he and another source denied a media report that a deal is at hand.
The talks have been “conceptual,” said one source, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak on the matter. The online media report about a pending sale “is premature,” another source said. That person said the Seattle group has not made a formal offer to the Maloof family, owners of the Kings.
It seems unlikely that Johnson would waste a bunch of his own time or the time of his proposed investors if this was all a done deal and that the Hansen group owned the team. Though Johnson is at an apparently low-leverage position in terms of negotiation he’s still got his own reputation on the line, not only with the taxpayers but also investors—presumably investors that support him.
Johnson posted his official statement on his Facebook page:
Today is a significant day for our community because for the first time it appears that the Kings are for sale. This is significant because for the past 27 years the community has staunchly supported both the NBA and the Kings. Last year, the City presented a deal that was approved by the NBA that would keep the Kings in Sacramento, increase the value of the franchise, and create additional jobs and economic growth in Sacramento and the region as a whole. Following in the steps of our previous efforts, I plan on making every effort to identify a potential buyer that would ensure the Kings remain in Sacramento.
Sacramento Bee writer and friend of NASORB Joe Davidson had this to say about the Maloofs:
And that’s really the one concerning element about this for Sonics fans. I mean, there was a notion at one time that the ownership group could acquire an NBA and NHL team for a $500 million combined price tag, but whatever, it’s not our money. This is what private investors are for, let them determine market value. But having the slimey, gross, two-timing, double-talking, untrustworthy Maloofs involved? And maybe even courtside?
Just remember, not only do we not have a team yet, but if you’re any kind of real Sonics fan you remember what 2008 felt like. You remember the miserable feeling of knowing that Kevin Durant would become a star for another fanbase. You may even remember some Thunder fans being jerks about the fact that they’ve got our team over the years. Don’t be the Thunder fans. Even if Kings fans keep the team, remember that it isn’t them pulling the strings. Be respectful, because this sucks for them.