UPDATE 1/10 4:35 P.M.: While everyone was fired up to have basketball back in Seattle to the point that we were seeing posts yesterday about new logos, here comes a pretty sobering update: The Maloof who is actually in charge says that a sale is not close.
4:30 P.M. 1/9: *Ed. note: Steven Large of CBS 13 is reporting that the Maloofs actually rejected the Seattle group’s offer for the Sacramento Kings. No definitive answers at this moment, but safe to say this story is still ongoing.*
Yahoo! Sports is reporting the Maloof family is very close to completing a deal to sell the Sacramento Kings to a group hoping to move the team to Seattle by the time the 2013-14 season rolls around. The key here is “very close.”
The report, from Yahoo!’s omnipresent breaking news source, Adrian Wojnarowski, says that the deal values the Kings at $500 million. The Maloofs would be selling to a group composed of hedge fund manager, Chris Hansen, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, long supported by commissioner David Stern in their bid to return basketball to Seattle.
The group of Hansen and Ballmer wants to move the team to Seattle’s Key Arena for the 2013-14 season. Hansen has been very public about his drive to bring a team back to Seattle, and the plan is to play in Key Arena for two years before plans for the new arena are set to complete. The new arena has been settled, but there’s still the deal with the Maloofs to complete, and that’s been tenuous – at best – in the past.
No agreement has been signed, but one source with knowledge of the talks described the deal as ‘first and goal at the 1.’ 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.
That last sentence should stick out. This is not a done deal at all, and the Maloofs have shown, to continue the football metaphor, they have a tendency to turn the ball over in the red zone.
One thing is certain though, the Sacramento fans, who have been jerked around by the Maloofs like they’re not at all important to their decision-making process, must be inconsolable about this news. The fans, in conjunction with Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, have done just about all they can to save their struggling basketball team. The Maloofs financial woes, which have necessitated looking at potential suitors (first in Virginia Beach, and now in Seattle) aren’t the fault of fans who have shown up to support their struggling club win or lose. Maybe they’ve struggled to get back to their brilliance under Rick Adelman, but they’re still some of the most diehard fans in the NBA, and all you have to do to see that is look at the message boards that are blowing up with angst right now.
It’s important for Seattle basketball fans to remember what happened to them when Clay Bennett hijacked their beloved Sonics for Oklahoma City. This is exactly what’s happening here. While it’s nice to think about Seattle again having a basketball team, fans in The Emerald City should remember they’re in the exact same position as fans in Oklahoma City, and to tread lightly in their enthusiasm. This is a sad day for Sacramento Kings fans, and a good day for Seattle fans. We only wish it could be happy for all.
Is this good or bad for the NBA?
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