While Sacramento Kings fans ramp up grass roots efforts to keep their NBA team from leaving town, two online reports advanced the idea that the team’s sale and relocation to Seattle could be announced as soon as this week.
Yahoo.com, which broke the story of the Maloof family selling the Kings to a Chris Hansen-led group last week, reported the NBA has already discussed the outline of the sale with members of the relocation committee.
Also, NBA.com quoted an industry source as saying the Kings and their owners “have got a clean path to Seattle.” NBA.com is the league’s official website but its content is not controlled by the league.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn told the Seattle SeattlePI.com on Monday it is clear “something’s going on” with the potential sale of the Kings, but he insisted his staff doesn’t know more than the public.
“We’ve been paying close attention to all the news reports, and my staff has touched base with their staff,” McGinn was quoted as saying.
“Something’s going on, and there’s clearly discussions going on, but there’s not a finish line that I know about. And I’m sure when they get to a finish line they’ll let us know. But that’s all we know.”
There was no official comment from Hansen’s group, the NBA, or the Kings.
The report on Yahoo, citing sources, shed light on details of the deal, which was described as “a non-binding set of deal points” of the sale to the Hansen-Steve Ballmer group.
The Maloofs would sell their 53 percent ownership stake in the team. The Kings are valued at $525 million. The Hansen-Ballmer group would also purchase 12 percent from minority owner Bob Hernreich.
Also, the story said, discussions have continued over the past week to “clear the way for the franchise to move to Seattle,” sources told Yahoo columnist Adrian Wojnarowski.
The NBA.com reported Hansen might have wanted to delay making his pursuit of the team public until the Seahawks’ season was completed, suggesting an announcement could come this week after the Seahawks lost Sunday.
Hansen’s group is hoping to wrap up the sale in time to meet the NBA’s March 1 deadline for applying for relocation for the 2013-14 season. If the sale goes through, the team would play for two seasons at KeyArena while a new $490 million arena is constructed in the Sodo District.
The NBA.com story also said NBA commissioner David Stern and the league want “certainty the arena will be built” before throwing its full weight behind Hansen’s purchase.
The relocation committee is comprised of several NBA owners, including committee chairman Clay Bennett, who bought the Seattle SuperSonics and moved them to Oklahoma City. The Yahoo story said the Kings would be renamed the Sonics once they were sold.
It is unclear if the sale of the Maloofs’ share would leave them with any future stake in the franchise, but sources told Yahoo Sports that there’s no circumstance where the Maloofs would have any real input or governance over day-to-day team operations.
Throughout the negotiations, the Maloofs had sought a way to keep a small percentage of the team in the transaction, sources said. The Seattle group has wanted the family completely out of the organization.
In Sacramento, fans and a local radio personality have launched a website asking for other fans to pledge to buy season-ticket packages should new local owners for the franchise emerge, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Another group of fans started an online petition asking Stern to assure a local ownership group would be allowed to match any offer made by the Seattle group for the Kings. As of Sunday night, that petition had gathered more than 7,300 signatures.
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is working to assemble ownership groups that would try to keep the team in Sacramento. Some names of interested owners have already emerged, including Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness.