The Maloof family has agreed to sell the [Sacramento] Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen, two people familiar with the decision said Sunday night. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal is still pending approval from the NBA Board of Governors.
One person said Hansen’s group will buy 65 percent of the franchise for $525 million, move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The Maloofs will have no stake in the team.
That $525 million would be the total valuation of the team, specifies AP, meaning that Hansen’s group would actually be spending about $341 million for the Maloofs’ share of the team. (ESPN, which has its own report on the deal citing “league sources,” says the $525 million would include any NBA relocation fee.) The Seattle group is also reportedly hoping to buy out other minority investors as well, according to those “people familiar with the decision,” so the ultimate cost could eventually rise to the full $525 million.
If this latest rumor is true — and lord knows we’ve heard enough by now that haven’t been — then the next step would be approval by the NBA, which has promised to give Sacramento a chance to find local owners willing to make a counteroffer. It seems like you’d have to be crazy to pay $525 million for an NBA franchise in Sacramento — the Golden State Warriors just sold for $450 million in 2010, and they play in a much larger media market — but then, I thought that Hansen’s group would be crazy to pay $400 million for a team to move to Seattle, and here they are preparing to pay a lot more than that. Either something about the value of NBA franchises is changing dramatically — maybe owners really think they’ll be able to cash in on rising cable TV revenues without having to pay more in player salaries, to which I can only say good luck to them — or Hansen and company are willing to punt on making a profit so long as they get to sit in the owner’s box at a new arena and cheer on the neo-Sonics. I guess rich people have done stranger things with their money.
[UPDATE: KING-TV's Chris Daniels tweets that the Maloofs have confirmed the sale.]