Earlier this month it was reported the the Maloofs were in talks to sell the Sacramento Kings to a group of Seattle investors who would then move the team back to their hometown. While this news polarized the NBA community, the proposed deal was eventually rejected and the city of Sacramento mounted a last ditch effort to buy the team and keep it local.
That plan has apparently failed, as Yahoo! Sports reported late Sunday night that the Maloofs had agreed to sell 65 percent of the Kings to Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s investment group, at the going rate of $525 million.
Of course, the Maloofs will see $425 million, as there is $100 million built into the price to cover the relocation fee the NBA charges.
The deal would be pending league approval, but sources told Adrian Wojnarowski that the NBA’s relocation committee will “overwhelmingly” approve the Kings move to Seattle. This means that at the start of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Seattle SuperSonics will once again be an NBA franchise.
No foolin’ this time.
The deal reportedly fell through a few weeks ago because the Maloofs weren’t happy with not having a controlling stake in the franchise. They kind of got that stake and about $25 million extra, as the Ballmer-Hansen Seattle group will own just 65 percent of the team, meaning the Maloofs get to sell their cake and eat 35 percent of it — kind of.
The Maloofs have basically been ordered by the NBA, as part of the sale, to sell their entire stake in the team. However, J.A. Adande and Marc Stein from ESPN are reporting the Maloofs will retain a “small portion” of the team.
One of the ultimate ironies in all of this is that Clay Bennett, the man who bought and then relocated the Sonics to Oklahoma City back in 2007, is the head of the NBA’s relocation committee and happens to be the man giving Seattle it’s team back. However, if you’ve ever watched the Sonicgate documentary, you’ll know this isn’t something Sonics fans will be kissing Bennett over.
Another thing to note, is that the Maloofs — arguably the most hated “owners” in the NBA — have singlehandedly inflated the price of an NBA franchise. The Ballmer-Hansen group is paying a record $525 million for just 65 percent of a lousy franchise. Granted, they’re willing to overpay to get the team back in Seattle, but imagine if Jerry Buss were to ever sell the Lakers, the kind of money he’d command from the sale of just 10 percent of the team.
Everything is expected to be made official within weeks and the NBA will be welcoming back the Seattle SuperSonics next season. But while one city is getting it’s team back, another is losing it in painfully similar fashion.