SEATTLE – The current owners of the Sacramento Kings have told their fellow NBA owners that they will not sell the team if a deal with a Seattle group to sell and relocate the team is not approved.
Instead, the Maloof family has reached agreement on a “backup” plan to sell 20 percent of the team to the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, a league source confirmed to the Seattle Times.
ESPN.com, which first reported the story, said that Hansen has also offered to pay a $115 million relocation fee that would give each of the 29 other owners roughly $4 million apiece. The group that moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008 paid just $30 million.
The revelations were yet another twist in the four-month tug-of-war between Seattle and Sacramento over the Kings, and further proof of Hansen’s pledge last month to consider all options in his quest to buy the team and move it north.
“It would seem the Maloofs are daring the NBA to reject the relocation and sale by saying they won’t cooperate with the Sacramento group,” Michael McCann, an on-air legal analyst for NBA-TV, told the Seattle Times. “This seems to be a strategy to encourage owners to vote in favor of Seattle and Hansen.”
The Maloofs and the Hansen group did not have a comment on the report. On Friday, Hansen announced he was increasing his offer for the team by $48.75 million for a total offer of $406.25 million, and a total valuation of $650 million. The highest price paid for a team was $450 million for the Golden State Warriors in 2010.
The ESPN.com report further reinforced the long-held position of the Maloof family that it wants the league to approve its deal with the Hansen group and that it does not want to sell the team to a Sacramento contingent led by Vivek Ranadive, currently a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors.
The Sacramento group has offered to match the original Seattle offer of $341 million for 65 percent of the team.
One league source told the Seattle Times that the family continues to feel sentimental and contractual ties to Hansen, who has twice increased the offer he has made for the Kings.
ESPN.com also reported that the increased offer has compelled the NBA to schedule another meeting of the league’s Relocation Committee on Tuesday in Dallas, a day before the league’s full Board of Governors is scheduled to cast a final vote.
The Relocation Committee voted 7-0 on April 29 to recommend that the Board of Governors not allow the Kings to move to Seattle.
After that vote, Hansen said in a statement that “we have absolutely no plans to give up” attempting to bring the team to Seattle. ESPN.com reported that due to the additional steps Hansen has taken, the NBA might be willing to re-evaluate the situation.
ESPN.com reported that even if the Seattle group cannot buy a controlling interest in the team, it wants the 20 percent share to pressure Sacramento into executing an arena deal with them. If that deal fell through, then the team could again apply for relocation.
ESPN.com also reported that there were concerns about the Sacramento ownership group being able to complete a deal for a new arena with the city and that those concerns could be fueling this latest push by the Seattle ownership group.
On Friday, Hansen wrote on his website sonicsarena.com that his latest offer for the Kings was a further attempt to sway the league and its owners.
“While we appreciate that this is a very difficult decision for the league and owners, we hope it is understood that we really believe the time is now to bring the NBA back to Seattle, and that it is paramount that we do everything we can to put Seattle’s best foot forward in this process,” he wrote.