That didn’t take long: Chief Sacramento whale Vivek Ranadive announced last night that he’s reached an agreement to buy the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof brothers, just two days after the NBA rejected the Maloofs’ sale to Chris Hansen’s Seattle group. Ranadive agreed to kick in an extra $6.5 million, bringing his payment to $347 million (actually $200 million in cash to the Maloofs, with the rest in debts to the NBA and city of Sacramento that he’s assuming), for a total franchise valuation of $535 million — $10 million more than his group had previously offered, and $90 million less than Hansen’s proposed team price.
So for all those who were asking whether there’s anything the NBA could do to force the Maloof brothers to sell, the answer is either 1) no, but they can twist their arms pretty hard by telling them this is the best offer they’re going to get, 2) no, but the Maloofs were only saying they wouldn’t sell to Ranadive because they were hoping to convince the NBA to approve the Hansen sale, or 3) no, but once Hansen was off the table, the Maloofs felt they had to settle for whatever they could get.
Either way, the question of who will own the Kings has apparently come to a conclusion, leaving us to return to the question of when and how Sacramento will finalize the deal to give the Kings $334 million in subsidies toward a new arena. There are still several loose ends to be tied up, plus there’s the little matter of the Sacramento council actually voting on a financing plan, as opposed to the rough description of a financing plan that they approved in March. (Not that there’s any chance of the council voting it down after winning the Kings back, but they still need to write it down on paper, which will require resolving some of the handwavy math involved.) And there’s still one group threatening a referendum, plus another filing a lawsuit against the deal for understating the level of subsidies.
Individually, none of these are likely to derail the deal; taken together … probably still none of them are likely to derail it, but there are enough different ways this could go sour that it adds up to a significant possibility. And there’s also still a very real chance that the plan is approved, but then the parking revenues that would be used for arena funding fall short, leaving the city to cobble together money from hotel taxes and possibly the general fund. Sacramento officials may have won the Kings back, but they still need to figure out how to pay for them.