According to multiple reports, including those from the Sacramento Bee and Yahoo! Sports, the Maloof family is close to a deal to sell the NBA Sacramento Kings to a group of Seattle-area investors headed by Chris Hansen of Valiant Capital for approximately $500 million. The Hansen group, which also includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom family, want to relocate the franchise to Seattle as soon as the 2013-14 season.
Last October, the NBA pressured the Maloof family to sell the Kings to the Seattle group, which it declined to do. But the Maloofs are swimming in debt. The relocated franchise would replace the SuperSonics, who played in Seattle from 1968 until 2008, when they were relocated to Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder.
Hansen’s group worked extensively with the City of Seattle to build a new arena in the Sodo district. Yahoo reported that the plan is for the relocated franchise to play in KeyArena for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons while the new arena is under construction.
Wednesday’s Yahoo! 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 then attempted to relocate the team to Anaheim in 2011 and Virginia Beach this winter. In February of 2012, Stern, the Maloofs and the city of Sacramento, represented by Mayor Kevin Johnson, announced a tentative agreement to finance a new stadium downtown to replace the aging Arco Arena, now renamed Sleep Country Arena.
But that deal collapsed in April and Stern appeared to wash his hands of the affair during a press conference at the 2012 NBA Finals in June, saying he wouldn’t speculate about the future of the Kings other than to announce that a move to Anaheim wouldn’t be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.
Forbes valued the Kings franchise at $300 million in January 2012. The Kings franchise moved to Sacramento from Kansas City in 1985. The Maloof family took majority control of the franchise in 1999.