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Volume 24 No. 158
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NBA BOG Unanimously Approves Sale Of Kings To Ranadive Ownership Group

The NBA BOG yesterday "unanimously approved" the Kings' sale to the group led by Vivek Ranadive, "essentially ending the Maloof family's turbulent tenure as Kings owners," according to a front-page piece by Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Experts said that the "peaceful conclusion to a battle that has lasted since January was a tribute to the NBA's skillful navigation through the process -- a result of lessons learned during previous, bloodier disputes over franchise control." The NBA was able to "snuff out the possibility of legal challenges, despite speculation that the Maloofs or their prospective business partners in Seattle were going to sue the league if they didn't get their way." The sale process is "expected to be completed" on Friday. The Maloofs in addition to the $236M payout from the Ranadive group will receive a $30M "nonrefundable deposit from" former Kings bidders hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. A source said that the Maloofs are "keeping that deposit even though the Seattle deal has died." Hansen said, "It's just not decided. … It's just a negotiation. How hard do you press for it without suing somebody? I'm just not interested in litigation." Hansen added, "Do you really think suing the NBA would be the best route to get a team back here? I don't think getting in a protracted legal bout is going to solve anything" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/29).

GOING GLOBAL: In California, Lisa Liddane noted Raj Manufacturing Owner Raj Bhathal is "one of the investors in a consortium to buy a majority stake in the Kings." Bhathal said, "After soccer, basketball is the largest global sport and, in our opinion, the sport that has the best growth prospects. We believe that basketball will be the leading American sport of the 21st century. Basketball is global, multicultural and talent-driven." Bhathal said that one of his roles will be to "spearhead the international committee for the Kings, with the long-term goal of increasing the team's global visibility, including in Ranadive and Bhathal's native India." Bhathal said that he has seen the "untapped opportunities firsthand" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/25).

END OF THE ROAD: In Sacramento, Jason Jones reported Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie, whose contract "expires at the end of June," was told last Thursday he would "not be brought back." Ranadive is expected to "use his connections as a minority owner with the Warriors to help fill openings with the Kings." Potential candidates "to replace Petrie" are Warriors Assistant GM & Dir of Player Personnel Travis Schlenk and ESPN's Chris Mullin (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/29). Also in Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes it would take an "arena full of therapists to determine whether Petrie's ineffectiveness was due to the crumbling of the Maloofs' financial empire." Petrie's tenure "began with a rush, could have and should have included an NBA championship in 2002, and ended with a massive thud and a near-simultaneous departure with the Maloofs" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/29).

RETURN OF THE QUEENS? Voisin wrote "not that the Ranadive group needs a nudge," but the WNBA Monarchs were "prominent and present throughout" a parade last Thursday celebrating the Kings staying in Sacramento. Voisin: "This is strictly me talking. But the WNBA will be back. The Monarchs will be born again. Not next month or next season and, realistically, probably not until the new sports and entertainment complex opens in 2016." The incoming Kings owners "love their daughters, love the fact their daughters are devoted and accomplished hoopsters, and because the WNBA adds dates to the calendar and bodies in the new building." Ranadive "evaded the topic and pleaded for patience" when asked directly about a WNBA team. Voisin noted he "previously pursued a WNBA franchise for the South Bay" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/26).