SBD/January 21, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
NBA Kings Owners the Maloof family has "reached an agreement to sell a 65 percent controlling interest in the franchise to a Seattle group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer," according to sources cited by Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sources said that NBA teams were "formally notified" last night that the Kings have been "valued at $525 million and that the parties have executed a purchase agreement, which still requires league approval." The agreement to "transfer the 65 percent majority stake in the Kings to the Seattle group represents the 53 percent owned by the Maloofs and an additional 12 percent from minority owner Bob Hernreich." Sources said that there has "not yet been an agreement submitted on the remaining 35 percent of the franchise, which is held by minority shareholders." One source said that the Maloof family "will retain a 'small piece' of minority interest in the franchise after its expected relocation to Seattle and renaming as the SuperSonics for next season." The Maloofs would hold "no decision-making power once control of the franchise is transferred." The deal "calls for the Maloofs to receive a non-refundable" $30M deposit from the Seattle group by Feb. 1. The NBA is "fully expecting Hansen to apply for relocation to Seattle for the 2013-14 season by the league's March 1 deadline, enabling the league's board of governors to vote on the application at their annual April meeting" (ESPN.com, 1/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Seattle owners will "bring back the franchise's longtime Sonics name and colors." Sources said that while NBA commissioner David Stern "did work dutifully to find a way to keep the Kings in Sacramento for several years, the league was pushing the Maloof family to sell their 53 percent ownership share, and wanted badly for them to exit the league as owners" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/21). In Sacramento, Bizjak, Kasler & Lillis in a front-page piece note the selling price "would be a record for an NBA team." But Sacramento officials "vowed to press on with their plan to assemble a counteroffer that would keep the Kings from leaving" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/21).
LOOKING AHEAD: YAHOO SPORTS' Wojnarowski cites sources as saying the new NBA ownership group has "begun discussing possible candidates to run its franchise and has deliberated whether to target" Spurs GM R.C. Buford and former Pacers President Larry Bird. Sources said that Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie, who is in the final year of his contract, "will not be retained." Petrie is "expected to retire at season's end" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/21). CBSSPORTS.com's Zach Harper writes the new owners "have to find a direction for their team." Petrie and other front office employees "most likely ... will be shown the door." New people with "fresh ideas and a better understanding of how to build a team in today's NBA would take over and figure out what they have with this roster" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/21). Longtime NBA writer Peter Vecsey on his Twitter feed wrote former Lakers and Bulls coach Phil Jackson could be involved with a new Seattle franchise in a front-office role. Vecsey wrote Jackson would not coach but would "mentor" the team’s coach (TWITTER.com, 1/20).
SLEEPLESS NO MORE: In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes under the header, "You Can Believe It Now: NBA Is Coming Back." Kelley: "I just have the feeling, judging by the smart and understated way Hansen and his colleagues have gone about the arena proposal and the acquisition of this team, they will be equally good at finding the right people to make the right personnel decisions." They "are winners." Fans may "never open our arms to commissioner David Stern, but he wanted this deal to work." Kelley: "He told me four years ago he wanted Ballmer in the league. The league is better with Hansen and Ballmer in it" (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/21).
Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie is “not happy, and the object of his scorn is his boyhood best friend,” Joe Banner, according to Reuben Frank of CSNPHILLY.com. Lurie said that Banner, his “top adviser for nearly two decades and now CEO of the Browns, appears to be the source of anonymous comments sharply critical of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman that appeared recently" on CBSSports.com. Lurie said, “I’m very supportive of Howie, and if there’s any criticism coming from afar about Howie, it’s just off-base, and so I will support Howie completely, because that’s not right. And, you know, if there are league sources that are really based in Cleveland, that’s not right. We see through it all.” CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora in a Jan. 14 story quoted a source as saying Roseman was “drunk with power” and “woefully out of his depth.” The source said that Roseman was “a detriment to the Eagles’ search for a head coach.” Banner released a statement that said, “It is always difficult to comment on a quote that may or may not be accurate or in context. In this case, from the comments which Jeffrey made that were communicated to me, it is necessary for me to make this clear, unambiguous statement. Any implication that I had anything to do with Jason La Canfora’s story is completely false, outrageous and borders on being libelous.” He added, “I had absolutely no conversation with Jason La Canfora. Having demonstrated my character over the last 44 years to Jeffrey and the last 14 to Howie, it is beyond disappointing that they would suggest such a thing. As tempting as it is to go further, other than defending myself, I will continue to take the high road on all such matters as I have since the day I left the Eagles.” Frank noted the Eagles and Browns “both targeted coveted Oregon head coach Chip Kelly for their head coaching openings, pitting Lurie and Roseman against Banner in a very public, high-stakes battle among former friends for one of the most successful college coaches of the past decade” (CSNPHILLY.com, 1/18).
THE BREAK-UP: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio wrote, “As best we can tell, there is definitely an undercurrent of hostility between Banner, and Lurie and Roseman.” A source said that Lurie and Roseman were “openly criticizing Banner when talking to people not affiliated with the team” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/18). In Boston, Greg Bedard noted the two “met through a mutual friend in the 1960s, and seemed to part amicably when Banner went to Cleveland” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/20). In Philadelphia, Les Bowen wrote, “This one has been simmering for a while,” and credit Frank for “getting Jeffrey Lurie to yank the lid off the pot” (PHILLY.com, 1/18).
INTERESTING WELCOME: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Cleveland media “had some questions” about the Browns hiring Michael Lombardi as VP/Player Personnel, as Lombardi has been out of the league since ’07 and he was with the Browns when Bill Belichick was coach and the team “didn’t have a lot of success.” Mortensen said, "All Mike Lombardi asked today was a fair chance to start over again. One thing (Browns Owner) Jimmy Haslam liked about him, as CEO Joe Banner recommended him, was he loved his intelligence, his passion, his knowledge, energy. (Haslam was) surprised a little bit I think by the strong endorsements he got from the coaching and scouting community around the NFL” ("NFL 32," ESPN2, 1/18). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote, “Not sure I've ever seen a Browns hire at his opening press conference get grilled over issues dating to the late 1980s and early 1990s. Or one who came prepared to make a plea for a fresh start as part of his opening remarks.” But Lombardi “looked like Banner's choice all along,” and his hiring was “more a foregone conclusion than the product of a no stone unturned open talent search” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/20). In Akron, Marla Ridenour notes CBS’ Jim Nantz “staunchly defended his close friend Lombardi,” and CBS' Phil Simms also called to "voice his support for Lombardi.” Nantz said, “All of this trashing of him has gone overboard. It’s gone beyond overboard in fair and accurate” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/21).
The NFL Jets Friday named Seahawks VP/Football Administration John Idzik GM, the “fourth in the last 13 years and the third" in Owner Woody Johnson's era, according to Conor Orr of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The team “hopes his expertise in salary cap planning and contract negotiations will bail them out of their most immediate problem -- a budget situation so dreary that some GM candidates were scared away.” After “sitting through 10 candidate interviews over two weeks, the Jets feel they have the right mix in Idzik” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/20). The “decision was made” by Johnson with assistance from President Neil Glat and Korn/Ferry Int'l Vice Chair Jed Hughes. Idzik will be introduced at a press conference Thursday at 11:00am ET (NJ.com, 1/18). The Johnson Company President Ira Akselrad was “in for several” of the interviews (AP, 1/18). In N.Y., Manish Mehta wrote Idzik’s “expertise lies in contract negotiations and salary-cap navigation rather than scouting and personnel.” He will have “final say on personnel matters” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/19).
INTO THE FIRE: ESPN N.Y.’s Rich Cimini noted the Jets “will be criticized because it's an extension of the Mike Tannenbaum model, and he was fired at the end of the season.” Idzik “was a regular in personnel meetings, but he devoted most of his time to the business side” (ESPNNY.com, 1/19). On Long Island, Kimberley Martin wrote, “Those rushing to run John Idzik out of town may want to reconsider.” An NFL agent said, “Great hire, in my opinion.” Martin noted the Jets “seem to have found a new GM who strikes a balance between both worlds” (NEWSDAY, 1/19). In N.Y., Steve Serby wrote, “The knee-jerk reaction is to pan the selection.” But “let’s give this guy a chance.” Idzik’s mother, Joyce, said, “I think he’ll do fine. ... I just hope that he likes it. He’s always been a kind of private person, and you can’t do that in the New York market. But he does know that” (N.Y. POST, 1/19).