Not much new on the Sacramento Kings-to-Seattle front today, aside from more Burkle-Mastrov rumors, which pretty much come down to “Ron Burkle has a lot of money, so he could buy the team.” But would he want to, when the sale price for 65% of the team is $341 million (based on a total franchise valuation of $525 million)?
I’ve been saying for a while now that Chris Hansen’s group is overpaying in its attempt to land the Kings, and there’s new evidence of just how much from Forbes, which yesterday released its NBA team valuations. With knowledge of Hansen’s bid in hand, Forbes dutifully prices the Kings at $525 million — a number that would make the Kings the 11th most valuable franchise in the NBA, just behind the Brooklyn Nets and San Antonio Spurs and ahead of such larger-market teams as the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, and Washington Wizards.
Now, there are a couple of possibilities here. One is that the rest of the Forbes numbers just haven’t caught up with the new reality of multi-billion-dollar cable deals, and all these other NBA teams are really worth more than their Forbes numbers. (There’s some evidence that sale prices have tended to run a bit higher than the Forbes valuations in the past.) Another, though, is that Hansen is paying for what the Kings franchise would be worth in Seattle — which is a good bit larger media market than Sacramento, with a larger corporate presence to sell club seats and advertising to — not what it’s worth if it stays put. Which means that Burkle and friends would need to pay a premium over what the team is really worth in order to be the saviors of the Kings.
Of course, the third possibility is that Hansen and his friends are overpaying in order to be the saviors of the Sonics, so it’s always possible that the Sacramento crew will do the same. In which case, we’re going to be set up for a battle before the NBA Board of Governors — and, quite possibly, after that in a court of law — for which, as Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said yesterday, “there is no precedent.” Or as I told the Seattle Times, also yesterday: “There are no real hard-and-fast rules here. … This could get back into the extremely murky world of what rights do sports leagues have to govern franchises, and it never usually gets that far in court, so we don’t have any idea what would happen if push came to shove.”