The Sacramento-based group bidding for the NBA Kings has "reached a deal with the Maloof family to buy its controlling stake" in the team, with the agreement expected to be unveiled Friday, according to a front-page piece by Bizjak, Lillis & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. A source said that if the NBA "approves the deal ... escrow is expected to close at the end of May." The source added that the Maloof family was "eager to 'turn the page' and was pleased it was able to sell to a group that will keep the team in Sacramento." The deal would set the team's "overall value" at an NBA record $535M. The source did "not say why the price values the team" at $535M, rather than the $525M figure the group had offered. Warriors Vice Chair and lead Kings bidder Vivek Ranadive confirmed the reported price was "about right." Sources said that in Sacramento, Downtown Plaza owner JMA Ventures has "begun the process of buying the Macy's men's store -- space that could be used for the arena being planned by the city to house the Kings." Bizjak, Lillis & Kasler report if a deal is approved, Ranadive's group would "buy the 65 percent share of the Kings controlled by the Maloofs" and their partner Bob Hernreich. After "absorbing debt associated with the franchise -- including the repayment of a $64 million loan the team owes the city of Sacramento -- Ranadive would pay roughly" $200M for the Maloof stake. Ranadive would "serve as managing partner" for the Kings ownership group (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/17). Ranadive on Wednesday said that his group had "put $341 million -- the original 65 percent share of the team under the $525 million valuation -- into escrow, a key requirement for the Maloofs to agree to a sale." NBA.com's David Aldridge notes NBA Commissioner David Stern had "worked with the Sacramento group for the past several weeks to make sure the Kings' offer could pass muster" with league owners. Ranadive will be the "first majority NBA owner of Indian descent" (NBA.com, 5/17). Ranadive will "have to sell his stake" in the Warriors before he can officially take over the Kings (ESPN.com, 5/17).
STILL SLEEPLESS: In Seattle, Don Shelton wondered who is to blame "for Seattle not having an NBA team," and he wrote Stern during the sales process did "nothing to change Sonics fans' opinion" of him. Stern on Wednesday started a press conference announcing the Kings would stay in Sacramento "with a jab, intended or not (I think it was), at Seattle by saying he had to hurry because he 'had a game to get to in Oklahoma City.'” Many are "convinced that he worked behind the scenes to make sure the Kings didn’t end up in Seattle" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 5/16). Also in Seattle, Nick Eaton asked of Stern, "Is he that clueless? Is he that out of touch? Was he just not thinking?" Eaton: "No, I’m inclined to believe Stern was as deliberate as he always is." Perhaps the OKC comment "wasn’t intended maliciously, perhaps it really was meant as just a joke -- but, boy did it pack a punch. A punch right in Seattle’s gut" (SEATTLEPI.com, 5/16). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said Stern "might as well have taken the Space Needle and stuck it to Seattle" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/16).
WASTED OPPORTUNITY? ESPN's Michael Wilbon said there is a 33% chance Seattle will get an NBA team in the next five years because Stern, who is retiring in February, "wants to go out with a team in Seattle." There is "talk out there about Milwaukee" relocating, as the team due to its arena situation seems a "little bit vulnerable." However, Wilbon does not "buy Indiana … or Charlotte being vulnerable now" to relocating to Seattle. But ESPN's J.A. Adande said if Stern "wanted a team in Seattle," moving the Kings "was his chance." Adande: "I'm not sure you're going to be able to find a duplication of the civic energy that's there right now." He wondered whether the "civic passion be there after this populace has been sold-out by Howard Schulz, hoodwinked by Clay Bennett and abandoned by David Stern" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/16).
CAPITAL LOSS: Former NBA coach Phil Jackson appeared on NBC's "The Tonight Show" Thursday night to promote his upcoming book "Eleven Rings," but he also discussed reports that he may have joined the Kings' front office had the team been bought by Chris Hansen's group and moved to Seattle. Host Jay Leno asked, "Would you have taken that job?" Jackson: "I had communication with the guy that's trying to make this move. It was serious talk. I thought he was a really good guy for the league. ... I won't be doing the job in Sacramento. I like Sacramento. Well, not that much" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 5/16).