Your last-minute Kings-to-Seattle NBA vote rumors

Okay, here we go: Today is the day that the NBA owners are set to meet and vote (unless they decide to put it off again) on whether to approve the Sacramento Kings‘ relocation to Seattle, and on whether to approve the sale of the Kings to Seattle-area owners Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. The last 24 hours has seen a flurry of unnamed-source-based reporting on what’s likely to happen today:

  • Aaron Bruski of wrote a long article on how Microsoft CEO Ballmer is alienating NBA owners with his “scorched earth policy,” and needs to back off or risk being shut out of not only the Kings talks but any possible future expansion plans.
  • Tim Montemayor of San Francisco radio station KGO says that it’s not Ballmer that’s the problem, but rather his and Hansen’s alliance with the Maloof brothers who currently own the Kings — or as Montemayor called them, “that family” — that’s jeopardizing their bid, because the NBA so hates the Maloofs. But Montemayor says that starting this week, Hansen and Ballmer have begun to heed that warning, and could instead accept the offer of an expansion franchise starting play in 2014-15 if they back off of trying to buy the Kings.

This is all rumors at this point, mind you, but it does point to a potential face-saving solution for all involved: Sacramento gets to keep the Kings, Hansen and Ballmer get their shot at a Seattle team sooner than later, and the NBA gets both of its new arenas. Okay, not all involved: The Maloofs would still be out $65 million. But it’s pretty apparent that nobody is in the Maloofs’ corner on this one, and their chances of winning a lawsuit against the NBA would be pretty slim.

There would still be two potential major holdups: First off, the Sacramento arena deal is getting shakier by the minute, with one group announcing yesterday that they’d launch a petition campaign for a referendum to kill the city’s arena funding, and another suing the city on the grounds that it illegally undervalued the public cost of the project when it presented the plan. If either of these measures succeed in tripping up the project — or if the city finance plan just falls apart before the Sacramento council can approve it, which still seems very possible — then the whole NBA plan to keep the team in Sacramento likely goes with it, though I suppose there would be plenty of time to turn around and tell Hansen and Ballmer, “Screw an expansion franchise, you can have the Kings after all for 2014.”

Problem #2, meanwhile, is the Maloofs, who don’t actually have to sell the team at all if they don’t wanna. So we could conceivably come out of today with the NBA having ratified the status quo: The Maloofs still in charge of the Kings, Sacramento still proposing a shaky arena plan and some new owners who the Maloofs don’t want to sell to, and Hansen and Ballmer waiting impatiently on the outside looking in. That rock-paper-scissors option is looking better and better…

22 comments on “Your last-minute Kings-to-Seattle NBA vote rumors

  1. If the NBA gives a long-lasting blessing to the team staying in Sacramento, the Maloofs will never (in the next decade or so) be able to sell the team for more than the $525 M evaluation that the Sac group is offering now. Lots of reasons for “the Family” not to rule out talking to Sac’s whales (which is in @dakasler ‘s story: George Maloof stepping back from the rumored “we won’t sell to Ranadive, etc”).

    Sounds like good motivation to exit now.

  2. Neil, can you provide a quick clarification? Where did you draw the following from?

    “Hansen and Ballmer have begun to heed that warning, and could instead accept the offer of an expansion franchise starting play in 2014-15 if they back off of trying to buy the Kings.”

    I assume you drew it from Montemayor’s twitter feed, and I have posted the link below. I don’t see anything about any guarantees of a team starting play in 2014, only that “H&B have been aware of 2014-15 season”, whatever that means. The tweet is full of typos so it’s hard to tell. But just curious if you are seeing something else.

  3. I wonder if that sports reporter from Seattle is going to get a snippy comment from David Stern today. If the status quo holds today, we could call this soap opera, “All That for Nothing.”

  4. Griffin: I was going by Art Thiel, who read Montemayor’s tweets as indicating that “Hansen and partner Steve Ballmer were told that expansion for 2014-15 was a real possibility.”

    I agree with you that it’s unclear exactly whether 2014 is promised or even hinted at, though. And given that we’re talking about unsourced comments by a radio reporter on his Twitter feed, it’s probably best not to try to parse this too finely.

  5. I think it’s really ridiculous that going after a property you really want, with great enthusiasm, can be viewed as a negative. What was Ballmer supposed to do, reduce the size of his offer? No. Leave it the same? No.

    They have the resources to turn this into a situation where the sellers truly are harmed if the larger bid is rejected for strictly random reasons. Now, if someone discovered that Ballmer kept slaves, or was importing heroin… Different story, they’d have to reject him.

    His biggest crime is showing motivation and enthusiasm? Man, that just about makes me want to give up.

  6. And by the way, I still don’t consider Bruski to be a reliable source; not after his comments regarding AB900.

  7. reporter to kj, do you have a 100% in escrow? ” I DONT WANT TO COMMENT ON THAT” dont you think that says alot? and or Mr. Stern is STILL helping the SAC group. If no expansion, Seattle is about to get screwed again!

  8. Nice summary. Though I don’t see the arena plan as on shaky ground at all. You have an investment group that bought an aging mall that tenants were leaving as very motivated to participate. The project is well capitalized. Also, those groups that are going to petition have less than $6000, as reported elsewhere, to gather all these signatures. Just not likely to be anywhere near successful. Further, this deal is much better than the first arena plan that was approved. Any lawsuit is just spurious. Already been shown to have no legal standing.

  9. In response to those posting from Seattle and saying that the moves to buy that Kings have not been negative.

    Please understand that the Maloofs have not acted in good faith with the NBA or Sacramento. The Maloofs are just bad news and they have tried to do Sacramento dirty repeatedly.

    Making a deal with the Maloofs that didn’t even allow a Sacramento bid left the NBA in a position where they had to do that. The reason for that is that there are requirements in their bylaws that have to be met for relocation.

    So, this is about the NBA following their required process and less about favoritism towards Sacramento. Though, I would add that had Seattle done everything Sacramento had done before Bennett bought the team you would not have lost the Sonics.

    Now it is being shown that the Maloofs have also manipulated Hansen and Ballmer to get a higher bid. Making a deal with them tarnishes Seattle and, it sounds like, almost cost you a team through expansion.

    Seattle needs to stop tearing down Sacramento, not working, and go after a team through expansion. Its your only option.

  10. mike, im going to assume that in 08 in seattle, you may not know the difference. how many years did it take seattle to come up with plans compared to sac? sac 10 seattle maybe 2 years. stern & bennett being butt buddies didnt make it any easier either.

  11. From what others had tweeted:
    Meeting scheduled for 11 AM today PST, unknown length, supposedly Stern will do a press conference after.

    Already people have taken pictures of George Maloof, David Stern, and a third person having a ~40 minute powow. Taken with a 2002 era camera phone apparently.

  12. Oh, that arena deal in Sac is absurdly shaky. We already know they cannot bond out the meters, and that they’re getting rid of 2700 parking spots.

    That means they won’t net $212M.

    Not shaky? Puh-lease.

  13. ChefJoe, I was wondering where my daughter’s made-in-1998 Barbie camera went.

  14. Incidentally, I hope all of you are as glued to this video of empty chairs as I am:

  15. Shoot, if Sacramento’s arena proposal is shaky, then the Seattle arena proposal is jello. There are two lawsuits in Seattle that will be filed if the Seattle MOU is activated. There is also the spectre of more lawsuits in Seattle, as well as citizen driven legislation. Then there is the Seattle Mayor, who was the main political proponent of the Seattle arena proposal; the chances of the Seattle Mayor winning re-election this year are low. Most Citizens in Seattle do not want the Hansen arena proposal. The Seattle arena proposal never stops shaking.

  16. Still waiting for David Stern to Eastwood a chair to resolve this. Tell the whole story David.

  17. Those empty chairs are sitting there, not moving. Those chairs are ominous looking. They are nightmarish chairs. No children should be allowed to observe those empty chairs. If only one day we could all live in a world in which there were no empty chairs. Dreaming, I know, but cynicism will never solve the tragedy of so many empty chairs.

  18. It appears from the King 5 stream that the press conference has been moved to a stairwell.

  19. Meanwhile, Chris Daniels is reporting on Twitter that the relocation vote was 22-8 against okaying the move to Seattle. No word on the sale decision.

  20. well, i hope jhande is right and seattle pulls out and offers no funding for an arena. so the nba will have to lie in the bed they’ve made. I have no qualms about the kings staying, but not with that risk to the city’s budget. and i definitely don’t want the nba to use seattle as a bargaining chip ala the NFL and LA.

  21. NBA hopes Maloofs and Ranadive group will close their sale agreement. Hansen no longer has one with the Maloofs.

  22. Its all over for Hansen and the Kings. Now it’s just down to what the Maloofs decide (sell to Sac or take the team off the market), and if the NBA can make a deal with Hansen and Co. on a team later on moving to Seattle/expansion team put in Seattle (to avoid a lawsuit for the NBA blocking the sale despite it being vastly better bid from people who definitely have the money and have a stronger arena deal).