Wow, was that ever a fun 24 hours of rumor-mongering. Let’s recap:
- On Tuesday morning, Virginia Beach announced that its doomed plan to build an arena to lure the Sacramento Kings was, in fact, doomed. Speculation immediately began that the Kings owners would now begin talks to sell the team to Chris Hansen’s group in Seattle.
- A food blogger named Daina Falk, whose dad David is a longtime NBA agent, tweeted (since removed): “So I hear that the Seattle Kings is officially a done deal. The Maloofs finally sold the ailing Sacramento team.” Asked where she got this information, she replied, “Heard it from a friend in the know…”
- Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that, according to “league sources,” talks to sell the Kings to the Hansen group for $500 million were on “first and goal at the 1.” Though Wojnarowski added: “The Maloofs’ history of changing course late in negotiations still has some uneasy about getting the sale completed.”
- The Sacramento Bee, citing still more unnamed sources, reported that any sale talks have thus far been “conceptual,” with no formal offers on the table: “If someone was to put a crazy number on the table, their perspective could change. If somebody like a Hansen were to actually make an offer, which hasn’t happened yet, and that offer was ridiculous, things could change.”
- Steve Large of CBS Sacramento tweeted:
Source: Seattle groups offer was rejected by Maloofs. Hmmm. Plot thickening by the minute.— stevelarge_cbs13 (@largesteven) January 9, 2013
So put it all together, and it adds up to a great heaping pile of WTF. Clearly some sort of talks are going on between the Maloofs and Hansen, and clearly the numbers being bandied around are somewhere around $500 million, and clearly the Maloofs are being the pains in the butts that we all expected them to be. Beyond that, pretty much anything is possible.
Setting aside for the moment the question of how Hansen’s group ever expects to earn back their $500 million purchase price while also paying for arena construction and a $30 million relocation fee, this could end up a happy ending for just about everyone: Seattle gets a team, taxpayers get an arena at a fairly low public cost, the NBA gets back into the bigger media market that it burned five years ago, and the Maloofs get to pay off the $200-300 million in debt they owe to Sacramento and the league and go back to their first love, selling hooch. Happy, that is, for everyone except Sacramento Kings fans, who would replace Seattle fans as the latest to be bereft of their team in the NBA’s game of musical franchises. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said yesterday that he’ll “fight like crazy” to find a local ownership group to buy the Kings and keep them in town; at this point it’s hard to envision anyone outbidding the Seattle group (assuming those rumors are true, and not the other ones), but then, nothing up till now has been especially easy to envision, so why stop now?