Posted October 26, 2012

Report: NBA pressuring Maloofs to sell Sacramento Kings to Seattle group

Ben Golliver, Sacramento Kings, Seattle
Joe Maloof, Gavin Maloof

In April, a deal to build a new Sacramento arena fell apart. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

David Stern announced on Thursday that he would step down as NBA commissioner on Feb. 1, 2014, giving himself 15 months to wrap up loose ends. Could that process involve killing two birds with one stone?

The NBA’s most troublesome ownership group, the Maloof family, who owns the Kings, recently backed out of an agreement on a new arena with the city of Sacramento after it was dissuaded from pursuing a relocation effort to Anaheim. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle and interested third-parties are in the process of building a new arena with the specific purpose of housing an NBA team that would replace the SuperSonics, who departed to Oklahoma City to become the Thunder in 2008.

The theoretical dots aren’t that hard to connect: match a troubled franchise with new ownership and a basketball-starved market and reduce two problems (the Maloofs and the NBA’s tattered reputation in Seattle) into one (outrage in Sacramento).

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports Friday that the NBA is indeed leaning on the Maloofs to sell their franchise so that it could be relocated to Seattle.

Between now and his departure, Stern is determined to get a franchise back into Seattle, league sources said, and has become a strong ally of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s group to bring back the NBA there. Ballmer’s group has been trying to get the Maloof family to sell the Sacramento Kings, so that the franchise can eventually play in a new arena in Seattle.

From the league office, pressure on the Maloofs to sell has been growing, sources said — just as hopes for a new Sacramento arena have been fading. Seattle Sonics fans will never forgive Stern for his complicit role in Clay Bennett’s deception to move that franchise to Oklahoma City, but make no mistake: Stern desperately wants to return the NBA to one of its great markets and wants it for his own measure of vindication before he leaves office.

As one source involved in the process said, “Stern has enough time to get a team back to Seattle, but he’ll let Silver deal with the crowd [booing] on opening night.”

During his annual preseason conference call on Thursday, Stern offered Kings fans no assurances, merely lip service.

“There are many people who appreciate the fact that Sacramento was, is, and can be a first class NBA city,” he said. “It is true that it needs a new building. We have our differences of opinions with all of our owners, and in this case with the Maloofs on some of the issues that have gone down here.  But my advice to Sacramento is to continue the enormous support that you have shown for the team, and we’ll see what the next steps turn out to be.”

Back in February, Stern, the Maloofs and the city of Sacramento, represented by Mayor Kevin Johnson, announced a tentative agreement to finance a new stadium. That deal fell apart by April, though, and Stern appeared to wash his hands of the matter during a press conference at the 2012 NBA Finals in June, saying he wouldn’t speculate about the future of the Kings other than the fact that a move to Anaheim wouldn’t be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

“If there was a vote, there would be no support for a move, but I believe the ownership says they are planning to stay there.  And on other situations I might hazard a guess for a prognostication.  On this one, I’m out of the business for now.”

On Thursday, Stern was asked if he had any regrets about his 28-year tenure as commissioner.

“It sounds like a Frank Sinatra song, ‘Regrets, I have a few,’ Stern joked, before avoiding the question.

But in a 2011 interview on an ESPN.com podcast, Stern mentioned the SuperSonics’ departure from Seattle as one of his regrets, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“My regrets are that we didn’t do a – weren’t able to do a better job of getting a building moved along so that we could have kept a team there.”

“I have regrets about both Vancouver and Seattle,” Stern said. “I think [Seattle is] a very prime city for an NBA franchise.”

“But our goal here is to keep all of our teams where they are,” Stern said, “but recognizing that that hasn’t been a goal that we have successfully achieved in the past.”

Where does this all leave us? For now, no closer to a resolution on the Kings’ future. This much is clear: Kings fans are backed into a corner, yet again, through no fault of their own. Someone at the league office owes them some clearer, deeper advice.

19 comments
qetuo209
qetuo209

why take the only professional team sacramentos ever had and move it??Seattle has the seahawks and the mariners why do they need another professional team so bad?

tglazier12
tglazier12

As a Kings fan it would break my heart to see them move out of Sacramento.  The Maloofs need to sell the team because the franchise is barely staying afloat.  I'm optimistic that somehow they will be sold to somebody willing to keep them in Sacramento.  Even though the Kings aren't the best team, they're all Sacramento has.  If you take them away what do we got?  Aggie football?? I love the Kings.  On another note I think Seattle is a good basketball city and they deserve a NBA team.  An expansion team would be nice to see, but I don't know how that will go.  Either way I hope Seattle gets a NBA team in the near future, but not at the expense of stripping the Kings from Sacramento.  Two wrongs don't make a right.

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

Even with the new stadium being built (depending on the EPA review and approval), it won't happen for another 2-3 years people. Sorry Stern, too little too late .....

MrRuiThomas
MrRuiThomas

As a Kings fan since I was a youngin, this makes me incredibly nauseous.  The last barrier between the Maloofs and relocation has reversed course.  If/when the team moves, the fan base and I will be caught in a bind.  Basketball is my favorite sport, but I do not like college athletics, and the NBA clearly doesn't deserve my money anymore.  What to do?  Shooting rampage in the league office?

Dar
Dar

This is all about two things. 1. The Maloofs are broke a** busters.  They pissed away the fortune they inherited and were unable to cough up a few dollars to complete a sweetheart deal to build a new arena for one of the greatest fan bases in the world.  The only thing the Maloofs have now to maintain a celebrity appearance,which is more important to them than making money, is that team. They screwed up their casino and it got taken away from them to be run by adults.   2. David Stern royally dirted the people of Seattle.  To cement his legacy, he believes he has to wrap up his tenure with a team back in the Emerald City.  This is horrible, but it's just the way things go.  I hope fans in Sacramento don't attend or watch on TV a single game this year.  They will, though, because they're great fans.  Billionaires are lined up to buy the team and keep it in Sacto because they know that, too.  Thoroughly ugly all around.  And this includes the crap product the Kings are putting on the floor this season.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

The Kings situation is different than the Supersonics.

 

The Maloofs do not want to keep the team in Sacto, and nobody in Sacto can come up with an arena deal that will keep them in Sacto.

 

Clay Bennett bought the SuperSonics claiming he wanted to keep them in Seattle, when he planned to move them. 

 

If the Kings move it is because nobody with the means to do so, wants to keep them in Sacramento.  That is not the same as telling lies about wanting to keep the team in one city, while you really plan to move them.

 

It's still bad for the Sacramento fans if the team moves.  But they cant blame the new owner if the team is sold.  Nobody is stepping up to keep the team in Sacramento.  Not at all the same as the Seattle situation. But still bad for fans.

dhodgs
dhodgs

The reality in the NBA is that there will be no expansion at this time. The only way for Seattle to get a new team would be for one to relocate. I fully expect and embrace the fact that if the Kings move to Seattle, the Sacremento fanbase will hate Seattle for the rest of their lives. Unlike the classless Oklahoma City fans that have been going on about "getting over it" and throwing thinly veiled jabs at former Sonics fans for the past 3 years, I will never tell people in Sacremento that they shouldn't be angry. They should be. Their ownership is horrible, the fans in Sacremento are getting screwed hard. Its not fair. Unfortunately that's the way sports work. At least in California there are 3 other NBA franchises to latch on to and cheer for every time they play the ex-Kings/new-Sonics. In Seattle we were forced to try and green-out the Rose Garden in Portland when OKC came to town, being forced to cheer for Portland is like being happy about a root canal.

Eliot
Eliot

As a lifelong Sonics fan this is good news for us, but I truly hate to see it happen like this. People saying that "no one would notice" a team being taken from Sacramento are the same people that said things like that about Seattle during the OKC move. People will care. All the people in Sacramento will care. All the Kings fans around the country and around the world will care.I hope if this does happen, Sactown gets an expansion franchise in a few years once the Maloofs are out of the picture.

bkjax8
bkjax8

Stern had better please SEA fans before he exits - the OKC fiasco was as raw a deal as any in sports history. SacTown doesn't have any championship-caliber teams to cherish.  Not that I'd want them to lose a team, but no one would really notice. 

The Raijin
The Raijin

 @MrRuiThomas Are you seriously making a terrible joke about going and killing people? You don't deserve the Kings, and you don't deserve to be walking around on the streets like a normal person. 

Matt_Mossman
Matt_Mossman

 @unitcaptain11 The difference is that the sports' fans in Seattle didn't care if the the Sonics left I lived there when all of this was going on). I live in Sacramento now and it is a totally different vibe. The fans here love this team and it would be a crime to take them away. If the league was to take the franchise from the Maloofs and make the team publicly owned it would be another Green Bay Packers.

 

KrishnanCoughran
KrishnanCoughran

 @unitcaptain11 You post is completely inaccurate and completely devoid of any thoughtful background or research.  In fact, there have been several billionaires (see Ron Burkle) willing to buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento. The city provided the Kings with a very viable option for a new downtown arena.  Unfortunately, they Maloofs were not in a financial situation to move forward with the deal, but it was a favorable option.  The only people not to step up in Sacramento is the current owners who refuse to sell and can't pay their fair share for anew arena.

Eliot
Eliot

 @Matt_Mossman  @unitcaptain11 Sports fans in Seattle didn't care? You're obviously a troll. How convenient for your story that you lived in Seattle and didn't see us all protesting over this. Get a grip. I don't want Sac to lose the kings but this guy's point was that it would be a different situation. The Kings would be purchased with the up front sole intent to move. The Seattle ownership group isn't going to buy them and promise to stay while orchestrating a move behind the scenes. Maybe if you watched Sonicsgate you'd understand the double-dealing.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

 @KrishnanCoughran  @unitcaptain11

If the Kings are bought by the Seattle ownership group it would be with the expressed intent of moving them.  It wouldn't be a sneaky con job, like what Clay Bennett did.  That is the point.