The Sacramento Kings bidding war escalated again on Friday, when would-be Seattle owner Chris Hansen increased his bid for 65% of the team from $358 to $406 million, making for a total valuation of the franchise at $625 million. Oh, and he also matched the would-be Sacramento owners group’s offer to forgo any revenue sharing dollars that the team might be eligible for. [UPDATE: According to ESPN "sources," he also also offered to pay a $115 million relocation fee to the NBA if his bid is accepted.]
For those scoring at home, Vivek Ranadive’s Sacramento bid is for $341 million, which would put the total value of the team at $525 million. And for those who have trouble with math, that puts Hansen’s valuation of the team at $100 million more than Ranadive’s — not to mention more than double what Forbes estimated this team was worth just a little over a year ago, before this bidding war started.
I’ve covered elsewhere why I don’t think Hansen stands much chance of making his money back on this deal (especially when you factor in his likely arena costs), but either he knows something I don’t know, or this is just turning into one of those eBay auctions where everybody tries to one-up each other in the closing seconds. But unlike eBay, there could be no winner here: First the NBA has to decide on whether to approve Hansen’s purchase offer, then the Maloofs — remember the Maloofs? — have to decide whether, if Hansen is rejected, they’ll accept $65 million less from Ranadive’s group for their majority share of the team, or whether if Hansen’s bid is rejected they’ll just say “Screw it, we’ll keep the team for now,” as they’ve apparently vowed to do.
And if that happens, then … beats me. There’s been all sorts of speculation about lawsuits, but Hansen would be firebombing his relationship with the NBA if he did so, on the off chance that he could win an argument that his right to buy the Maloofs’ team trumps the NBA’s right to approve its franchise owners. And if the Maloofs were to sue the NBA for refusing to approve their high bidder, they’d be in for potentially even rougher sledding, since NBA teams all agree not to sue the league, and the Maloofs knew the rules about conditions for selling your team when they went into this business.
What Hansen and the Maloofs alike are clearly hoping at this point is that the NBA will decide that the easiest way out is to just let Hansen buy the damn team, and then figure out later whether it’ll stay in Sacramento or move to Seattle, based on how Sacramento’s arena plans work out. It’s not clear whether the NBA is ready to go that route, but if money talks, Hansen just gave the other 29 NBA owners 48 million more reasons to listen.