Source: Maloofs Still Open To Selling To Sacramento Group Despite Seattle Preference
Kings Owner the Maloofs "have not closed the door" on selling the team to a group intent on keeping the team in Sacramento and were "receiving updates from the NBA on the Sacramento group's efforts as recently as this weekend," according to a source cited in a front-page piece by Bizjak, Lillis & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The Maloofs "continue to make it clear they prefer to cement a deal with the Seattle group" led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen. Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have agreed to pay the Maloofs and their partner Bob Hernreich $406M for the 65% of the team they control -- a figure that was "increased Friday for the second time." The Seattle group also would pay a $116M relocation fee, the "highest in league history." The Sacramento investors in contrast have "stuck with their original offer" of $341M. The Maloofs and the Seattle group also have "come up with an alternative proposal" that would keep the team in Sacramento "but bring the Seattle investors in as minority partners with the Maloof family." The Seattle group would pay $125M for a 20% stake in the Kings, and the team "would play at least one more year in Sacramento while team owners attempt to negotiate with the city of Sacramento on a new arena deal." Sources said that should a Sacramento arena deal fall through, the team "likely would seek NBA approval a second time to move to Seattle." The deal would "allow Hansen to purchase a controlling interest in the team" -- at a price that valued the entire team at $625M -- within the next two years, subject to NBA approval. A source added the Maloofs "intend to be loyal to Hansen to the bitter end" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/13). ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst cited sources as saying that the NBA relocation committee, in light of the Seattle group's raised offer, is "planning to re-evaluate" it and has scheduled another meeting ahead of tomorrow's full owners meeting in Dallas (ESPN.com, 5/11).
RANADIVE'S DECISION: Warriors Vice Chair Vivek Ranadive said of his decision to bid for the Kings, "Every now and then you get the opportunity to participate in something that's bigger than yourself. The state of California means everything to me, and I felt that if I could be a part of keeping the Kings in Sacramento, that was something that I needed to do" ("The Interview With Raj Mathai," KNTV-NBC, 5/11). Sports industry experts said that Ranadive's group has the "upper hand." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said the Seattle group's latest bid "reeks of desperation." Ganis: "They may have concluded this was their one shot at a team. But if so, they should not have lowballed their original offer. As they say in the NBA, they should have gone strong to the hoop." In N.Y., Ken Belson notes no matter what the NBA "decides this week, the bid to keep the team in Sacramento could be dogged by controversy" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/13). In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote the Hansen/Ballmer strategy "effectively accomplished the following: It dumped another extravagant mess on the laps of NBA Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and 30 ownership groups." The increased offer by Seattle and the new report indicating the Maloofs refused to sell to the Sacramento group was the "middle finger to Sacramento." Voisin: "This was scummy and dirty, was over the top and down in the gutter, and frankly was a classic example of why so many folks are turned off by professional sports" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/12). Also in Sacramento, Marcos Breton wrote, "Even in an ego-driven business like the NBA, the posture of Hansen -- and Steve Ballmer ... is preposterous" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/12).
MEAN-SPIRITED MALOOFS? CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote under the header, "Maloofs Employ 'Plan Middle Finger.'" The Maloofs are "working the more deliciously mean-spirited angle of shutting" Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s plan "out entirely, taking the old carrot-and-stick and turning it into summer home-and-dumpster." The Maloofs in sum are "telling Sacramento at the moment of its greatest imagined triumph that nobody can put a price tag on spite" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 5/11). CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Moore wrote the Maloofs "can not come off any more petty if they started throwing the cake Sacramento offered them" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/11). In Sacramento, Victor Contreras writes, "It's time for the NBA to show the Maloofs the door and tell them they don't have to go home, they just can't stay here" (SACBEE.com, 5/13).