Maloofs May Want To Retain Partial Control Of Kings, Complicating Possible Move To Seattle
The Maloof family will "listen to offers" to sell the NBA Kings, but it might not be "willing to walk away from the team entirely -- creating a possible snag in the team's rumored move to Seattle," according to a front-page piece by Bob Condotta of the SEATTLE TIMES. A source said that the family "wants to keep a say in how the team is run, even if they sell it" to Seattle hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, who "has a deal in place to build a new arena in Seattle if he can buy a team to play in it." An initial report Wednesday on the possible sale "stated that the family would retain a small percentage in the team." But a source said that the question now is "whether that percentage also would allow the Maloofs some say in how the team is run." The source said that the sale of the team for the Maloofs "goes beyond dollars and cents and stressed how important being involved in the NBA has been to the family" (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/11).
BURKLE TO BID? In Sacramento, Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak in a front-page piece report city officials have "pledged to find competing bidders who would keep the team in Sacramento, with the possibilities including" Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle, who "has tried to buy the team before." NBA Commissioner David Stern said that it "would be reasonable to give Burkle a shot at matching Seattle's offer." Meanwhile, a source insisted that talks about a proposed sale to the Seattle group "were still in the early stages." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on Wednesday said he has "stayed in contact" with Burkle, whose effort to buy the Kings nearly two years ago was rebuffed by the Maloofs. The source said that the Maloof family "still hasn't made up its mind to sell," but the family's "recent financial setbacks, including the loss of controlling interest in the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, have prodded its members to become more open to the idea of unloading the Kings" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/11).
SUCCESSFUL IN SEATTLE? SI.com's Ian Thomsen wrote the NBA has "experienced difficult moves in recent years," but this is one relocation that rival owners would "embrace." The Kings would be "moving to a larger market with a long tradition for supporting NBA basketball." The Seattle ownership group "would be solid, and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen is on his way to having a new arena in place in three years." After years of "unconsummated haggling over a new arena in Sacramento, people throughout the NBA will be quietly rooting for Seattle" (SI.com, 1/10).
TASTE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE: In Seattle, Steve Kelley writes the "whole idea of relocating sports franchises is disturbing and wrong." Kelley: "I'm rooting for Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer in their quest to bring the Kings to Seattle. ... But I can't help thinking how rotten this deal is for Sacramento's basketball fans." Kings fans are "experiencing the same kind of anxious desperation that Sonics fans felt in the final season of the NBA in Seattle." The Kings' fans "deserve better," just like "Seattle's fans did" (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/11).
KINGS FANS WARY OF COUP D'ETAT: In Sacramento, Matt Kawahara notes he interviewed a dozen people before Thursday's Mavericks-Kings game, and most of them said that they were "upset by the newest wave of uncertainty surrounding the Kings' future." Some said that they "are resigned to a move." Others "held out hope that a deal will be struck to keep the team in Sacramento, its home since 1985" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/11).