BY Art Thiel 09:24PM 01/20/2013

Maloofs agree to deal to sell Kings to Hansen

Controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise has been purchased by Chris Hansen’s investor group, according to multiple media outlets Sunday night citing NBA sources. The sale reportedly is for $525 million, which includes the Maloof family’s 53 percent share and the share of one minority owner.

The deal, which was disclosed to teams Sunday night, requires league approval, presumably before the NBA’s March 1 deadline to apply for relocation. If it is approved, the Kings would be moved after the season ends in April and play for at least two seasons in a modestly renovated KeyArena.

Update: In a release at 7 a.m. PT today, the NBA said it received the offer from Hansen:  “The NBA received an executed Purchase and Sale Agreement for the transfer of a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family to an investor group led by Christopher Hansen. The proposed transaction is subject to the approval of the NBA Board of Governors and has been referred to the Board’s committee process for review.”

Commissioner David Stern said last week that he will permit a a counteroffer by business people organized by Mayor Kevin Johnson to keep the team in Sacramento, a plan that must include a new arena downtown. The Seattle sale approval and the Sacramento effort could proceed simultaneously. Sources said that there has not yet been an agreement submitted on the remaining 35 percent of the franchise, which is held by minority shareholders. That would leave the actual cash amount to the Maloofs at around $340 million. The expectation is if the transaction is completed, the minority shareholders may be bought out.

The deal calls for the Maloofs to receive a non-refundable $30 million deposit from the Seattle group by Feb. 1.

Johnson said the city is in a “six-week sprint” to put together a proposal for the NBA’s Board of Governors (owners). The Maloofs, who according to will retain a small share of the Kings but have no operational control, a year ago backed out of agreement funded mostly by the city to keep the Kings by building a new arena downtown. In the past week potential members of the would-be group have suggested an alternate site, which would slow the approval process.

Johnson released a statement Sunday night, which read:

“Sacramento has proven that it is a strong NBA market with a fan base that year in and year out has demonstrated a commitment to the Kings by selling out 19 of 27 seasons in a top 20 market and owning two of the longest sellout streaks in NBA history.

“When it comes to keeping the team in our community, Sacramento is playing to win. In particular, we have been focused like a laser on identifying an ownership group that will both have the financial resources desired by the NBA and the vision to make the Kings the NBA equivalent of what the Green Bay Packers have been in the NFL.”

The Sacramento Bee reported that political strategist Chris Lehane, who is advising Johnson, said Saturday night the deal with the Seattle group “was fairly expected.

“I don’t think it changes anything,” Lehane said. “We have our game plan.”

Lehane said the mayor has been approached by at least three investor groups that “would qualify under the definition of a whale” and are interested in buying the team.

Final approval of Hansen’s proposed $490 million basketball/hockey arena in SoDo awaits completion of an environmental impact study that must consider at least one alternate site. The study is not expected to be complete until late in 2013. The site choice is also the object of two lawsuits that claim that a third sports venue so close to the port and downtown would have large negative impacts on business and traffic in the area.

It’s not clear how the NBA owners will view the unresolved site selection in deciding to approve the Seattle purchase bid. The Kings, seen by many as a lame-duck team, have the NBA’s lowest attendance and another year like this one in Sacramento would be grim.



  • pretzzr

    the suns?

  • Meatguy


    • art thiel

      That was exciting for about 45 seconds. Except the Suns are worse than the Kings. Fixed. Thanks.

  • This still seems too early for me. I won’t believe this until the NBA owners approve the sale and the relocation committee approves the move.

    • art thiel

      Understandable and wise. Most sports fans don’t have the discipline.

  • PokeyPuffy

    please dear god use the original uniforms and not those lame makeovers from the 90’s, when they abbreviated the SUPERSONICS to the SONICS, with some childish space needle graphic!

    this will be a major rebuild, it will take 5+ years to get a contender.

    • art thiel

      One thing at a time, Pokey. You’re worrying about hood ornaments when haggling is still going on on the cart showroom. And yes, it’ll take awhile. You expected the ’72 Lakers or the 96 Bulls?

      • PokeyPuffy

        au contraire! the jerseys are the only thing that makes a team have any regional identity nowadays. We are getting some retread sacramento team that will be rebranded to represent all things Seattle, so lets make sure we get it right from the start:)
        and what i expected was the 2011 Thunder…..

  • jafabian

    I can’t figure the NBA. First they put franchises in all the major markets. Then they say how they prefer going to cities where they’re the only game in town like Portland, Salt Lake, Sacramento and OKC. Now they’re all but certain to put a franchise back in Seattle and let them play, albeit temporarily, in an arena they insisted was far below NBA standards. Of course, after saying Key Arena had some of the best sight lines in the league and was an excellent facility. This is about as confusing as the success of the Kardashians.

    The city should lock up the franchise in as long a lease as they possibly can, though all we’ve learned from when Clay Bennett was here is that leases are made to be broken. I feel for KJ right now. The clock is winding down and the pressure is on while he has the ball. Or does he?

  • Joe Fan

    It cracks me up that KJ is now working full time to keep the Kings in town. What has he been doing the last six months, twiddling his thumbs? Does he jump into action only at that point in time that things get desperate?

    • jafabian

      Not at all. He’s been very active and gave the Maloof’s a very good deal for an arena that had the NBA’s stamp of approval but the Maloof’s backed out of it at the last minute. Sterno lost his temper over it and all but withdrew his support of them. Pretty sure the NBA wants the Maloof’s out after tha happened. But for the past year KJ has been working over time to keep the Kings. It’s wrong to say he hasn’t done anything until now. If anything he might be guilty of putting it too high on his To Do list. But he’s done a fine job and a much better one than Nickels did with the Sonics.

      • art thiel

        Well said, jafabian.

    • art thiel

      Joe, since the deal for a new Sactown broke down a year ago, the Maloofs have been stiffing KJ, saying the club wasn’t for sale. Don’t blame him, blame the Maloofs. And they still haven’t sold the team.

  • Tim

    I agree that it’s too early to celebrate, but I finally do feel this is likely going to happen. I have mixed feelings for sure–really feel empathy for the Kings’ fans, and know how rough it is. But, they “poached” a team from KC so I guess we’re now even. Can you imagine having Phil Jackson involved? I’m not thinking 5 years to contend….not with the deep pocketbooks and passion of our new ownership.

    • art thiel

      Good point about Sactown having done to KC what’s about to be done to them. It’s a cruel biz, cities played against each other by a monopoly operator. i’d still prefer an expansion team, but I get Hansen’s urgency. He’s thrown down hard money.

  • RadioGuy

    I’m optimistic that people whose personal happiness requires an NBA return to Seattle will get their wish, but remember who we’re dealing with here. “Trust, but verify” might’ve worked for Reagan with Gorbachev, but it won’t work for Hansen with the Maloofs. Believe nothing until the ink is dry.

    • art thiel

      Caution is wise, radio, but fandom is all about emotions. Feel free to keep some adrenaline in check. This is progress, not proof.

  • Michael Kaiser

    Stealing another city’s franchise is something we are supposed to feel good about it? And base the foundation of a new Sonics? Whoopie! I can really look myself in the mirror. We should have been patient, gotten the arena going, and then pushed for an expansion franchise, which I am sure we would have gotten at that point. The whole thing is going to feel slimy to me, perhaps forever. And, oh, how Seattle whined when its own franchise got stolen. What a joke.

    • art thiel

      Michael, that was the first column I wrote in July 08 in the print P-I (that was a newspaper). We are going to have to do another city what Bennett did to us. Yes, it’s different in that Hansen’s purpose is clear, not deceitful, in the purchase, but that doesn’t fix the hole in the heart for the Sactowners. It’s a dirty low-down business, and the high-minded like yourself will never be comfortable. Feel free to stand down.

  • 1coolguy

    Why on earth would anyone be so desperate as to spend $340m only to have teh Maloofs as a partner??? Even with a controlling interest, Hansen can’t prevent the Maloofs from being quoted in the press if things don’t go their way and minority shareholders can be very powerful.
    It will be an interesting column once the answer is found out.