Posted January 09, 2013

Report: Maloofs close to selling Kings to Seattle investment group

Ben Golliver, Chris Hansen, Sacramento Kings, Steve Ballmer
Seattle SuperSonics

The SuperSonics played in Seattle from 1968 through 2008. (Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

The Maloof family is nearing a deal to sell the Sacramento Kings to a group of Seattle-area investors for “approximately $500 million,” Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday. The group, led by Valiant Capital’s Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, will reportedly eye relocation to Seattle  as soon as the 2013-14 season. Back in October, it was reported that the NBA was pressuring the Maloof family to sell the Kings to the Seattle group. The franchise would replace the SuperSonics, who played in Seattle from 1967-68 until 2008, when they were relocated to Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder.

The Seattle group has worked extensively with the city of Seattle to build a new arena. The current plan, Yahoo! Sports reported, is for the franchise to play in KeyArena for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons before the new arena opens.

Eric Rose, a spokesman for the Maloofs, told SI.com Wednesday that the organization would have no comment on the reported sale.

“As we have said for nearly a year, we will not comment on rumors or speculation about the Sacramento Kings franchise,” Rose said.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who played 12 seasons in the NBA, asked his city’s residents to “keep the faith” on Twitter.

“Bottom line Sacramento: it’s not over,” Johnson tweeted.

The Associated Press reported that the NBA league office declined comment on the report.

In a recent ESPN.com radio interview, NBA commissioner David Stern sounded optimistic that an NBA franchise would return to Seattle.

“There’s so much activity now in Seattle,” Stern said. “There’s a plan for a building, land has been acquired, reviews are being undertaken. I think a predicate for a team is a building. I think those plans are underway. I think the answer to your question is yeah. I think there will be a team in Seattle again and I hope there will be.”

Wednesday’s report comes after years of financial struggles for the Maloof family, which was forced to sell a vast majority of its stake in the Palms Casino in Las Vegas and its beer distributorship in New Mexico. The family pursued relocation efforts to Anaheim and Virginia Beach and, back in February 2012,  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.

During his annual preseason conference call on Oct. 25, 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.”

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.”

Forbes valued the Kings franchise at $300 million in January 2012. The Kings franchise moved to Sacramento from Kansas City in 1985 and the Maloof family took majority control of the franchise in 1999.

The Point Forward’s New Year’s resolution for the Kings was for the Maloofs to sell the franchise. Unfortunately, it looks like the transaction, which is not yet a done deal, will come at the expense of a very loyal Kings fan base.

31 comments
chukar2248
chukar2248

Seattle is the 13th largest metro area in the country, compared to 22nd for the Sacramento area, and 41st for Oklahoma City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Primary_Statistical_Areas). The fact that Seattle was gypped out of a team was a travesty in the first place. The fact that the Kings have been playing 3rd fiddle in California for so long and not being competitive makes sense for the move. If they wanted to stay in CA they could logically move to SF but there's already a ton of professional sports teams there so moving the Kings there would dilute the sports scene. Seattle makes a ton of sense because it has the population and fan base, as well as the fact that it's only got 2 major sports teams. Rabid fan support for the Seahawks and Sounders shows that Seattle is a city that has tremendous potential for NBA and NHL teams.

Atrain81
Atrain81

How can the Kings become the Seattle Supersonics?  That's like the Detroit Tigers becoming the new Montreal Expos?  Ty Cobb, the greatest player in Expos' history?  Miguel Cabrera, Montreal Expos' triple crown winner?   The Kings need to stay in Sacramento and Seattle needs an NBA expansion team--the new Sonics, just like Cleveland got the new Browns after Art Modell &$#@ed that city over.  The NBA could expands by two teams.  They have their pick of other former NBA cities: Kansas City, Cincinnati (the King's old cities), St. Louis, Buffalo, San Diego, Vancouver, that would love another NBA team.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

Enough with the teasing. You're taking forever. Just finish already. Wait, we're not talking about what happens in the Maloof's casino back alley?

JeffShields
JeffShields

Hate to see the Kings leave but couldn't be happier to say goodbye to the Maloof's!!!

 

shingen
shingen

gotta love Seattle fans who have no problem relocating someone else's team after crying about losing theirs.

Rusty1
Rusty1

Who cares - NBA is such a wooosy sport

NBA
NBA

NBA basketball back in the Emerald City!!!! HOW NICE!!!

THE SEATTLE SUPERSONICS ARE BACK !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whoop !!!! Whoop!!!!!

w1mj23
w1mj23

They will move to Chicago

Richard V
Richard V

Forbes valued the team at 300 mil and the deal is for 500 mil ? You know darn well the Maloof's will sell ! I think they should kick a chunk of that coin back to the Sacramento community though. Like about 50 to 100 million of it ! Just the right thing to do I think .

runeson
runeson

 @chukar2248 I agree with your post, but currently we actually have 3 major sports team - Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders!

JohnMarcotte
JohnMarcotte

 @chukar2248 You are ignoring the fact that Sacramento can be a very competitive market. The problem is not the city: it is the owners. Sacramento had the league's longest sellout streak -- twice. The majority of those sellout seasons were losing seasons.

 

The city put together a very good package for a new arena with the NBA that the Maloofs agreed to -- even hoisting arms with the Mayor during a game as they had "Hero" by the Foo Fighters piped into the arena -- before backing out of the deal at the last minute.

 

They have run the franchise into the ground because they don't have money for basic arena maintenance, much less to field a competitive team.Sacramento may be smaller than Seattle, but the Kings are they only sports franchise in town. Seattle has the Mariners and the Seahawks. I'd hate to "dilute the sports scene."If you are positive its the city and not the owners, take the Maloofs as well as the team. 

MatthewHall
MatthewHall

 @Atrain81 The Kings would become the Sonics the same way the Sonics became the Thunder. Your point was null, if you had a point at all. 

CedricOdom
CedricOdom

 @shingen Your franchise has sucked for years.. it was only a matter of time before they left anyways.. you have how many sport teams in Cali? or do you just not know.. bum

Ken21
Ken21

 @Richard V They owe the City of Sacramento over 70 million in loans which would have to be padi as part of them leaving.

 

davidwakeman
davidwakeman

 @Richard V I was reading that the Maloofs owe the City of Sacramento something like $70M in a loan they took out a few years ago.  So I think they will be kicking some of the money back to the City, if they like it or not.  

CedricOdom
CedricOdom

 @NBAToColumbus no.. first off your information is incorrect chase was not started in Ohio it was start in Texas JP Morgan and Chase? yea get your facts straight and second no just no

Hellzyeah
Hellzyeah

 @NBAToColumbus Funny.  By the way, Columbus is not the biggest metro area in Ohio; Cincinnati is.

Boron
Boron

 @NBAToColumbus I wish you luck in bringing an NBA team to Columbus, but the Kings are absolutely not going there.

MatthewHall
MatthewHall

 @JohnMarcotte  @chukar2248 But the city is a part of the problem. A big reason the Maloofs can't build a solid team is because no big name free agent will go to a small city like Sacramento. Webber was a once in a million opportunity, it won't hapen enough to keep the team competitive. And of course the Maloofs are a huge problem as well. 

Atrain81
Atrain81

 @MatthewHall Matt--the Sonics changed their name to the Thunder.  Despite the stupidity of that name (should the new Seattle team be The Fog?) the Thunder's history is the Sonics history.  The Kings have their own history--even their name comes from Kansas City--they became the Kings because the Kansas City baseball team already had the name Royals.  It's like the Knicks moving to Arkansas and the Lakers moving to New York and becoming the Knicks.  Whose the greatest player in Knicks history: Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant?  Doesn't make sense.

 

Charlotte, a much smaller market than Seattle, got an expansion team after the Hornets left.  The NBA should just pony up and give Seattle an expansion team, or if they really need to have DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento should get an expansion team.

ThisJustM
ThisJustM

@CedricOdom And there are how many teams in Seattle? As a fan, you should know picking another team in the same state isn't that easy. And also if there is a team in California it would make sense for their to be a team in California's capitol city. While there are how many professional teams in Seattle? Don't get me wrong. I can't hate on a city for getting a team back, however, I can hate on an ignorant fan who doesn't realize the gift they are about to receive.

JohnMarcotte
JohnMarcotte

 @MatthewHall  @chukar2248 Then close up Salt Lake, New Orleans, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Portland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Memphis while you are at it, because all of them are smaller markets than Sacramento.It seems to me that a few of those franchises have found ways to win and players that were happy to play for them over the years, though.

JustinBuckner
JustinBuckner

 @Atrain81  @MatthewHall Seattle owns the rights to all of the Sonic's History, part of the separation agreement- at this point it's called a shared history, when a team returns to Seattle the Sonics History reverts to that team. Not sure what happens to the KC/Sacramento history then, kind of like Baltimore doesn't recognize their Cleveland records

roderiques5898
roderiques5898

What 3 in Seattle. They only have the Mariners in baseball and the Seahawks in football. Unless you want to count the Sounders in soccer. They haven't been relevant in sports for many years. Talk to me when they have all 4 of the major sports thriving in the state. People in the state are passionate about football and that seems to be it. I would like to see a NBA and NHL team in the state and the fans support them like they do the Seahawks

ThisJustM
ThisJustM

@natef206 You're comparing apples and oranges, Seattle(a city) to California (a state). You are right about the Kings being a bad team but that is because of the owners not the location the team was based in. But if you want to talk about success, what have the three teams in Seattle done?

natef206
natef206

 @ThisJustM  @CedricOdom  Cedric's statement isn't ignorant, there's 18 professional sports teams in California, only 3 in Seattle. So what if California loses the Kings, they've been the worst team in the state for years now so it should really be no problem.