Internet rumors are running rampant that the sale of the Sacrmento Kings to the Seattle group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and San Francisco hedge fund manager Steve Hanson could be imminent.
Premilinary details, via Yahoo sports and twitter, suggest the team will be sold for around $500 million, but with the intent and understanding they will move the team to Seattle in time for the 2013/14 season. The team, which will be renamed the Sonics, an homage to the team that was moved to Oklahoma City four miserable years ago.
The Sonics were formed in 1967 in Seattle and won the city's only modern era championship in 1979. In 2007, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, embittered by the difficulties of owning an NBA team, sold the team to an Oklahoma contingent who proceded to gut the team's players and Seattle personnel en route to moving the team to Oklahoms City, despite repeated insistance they boought the team to keep it in Seattle. It's arguably the darkest day in Seattle sports history as the Sonics were notoriously popular in Seattle, the Northwest and around the country.
Details are still emerging, and as of now the deal is not complete. The Maloofs have backed out of several deals at the 11th hour before, so while this is not a confirmed deal, all signs point to a deal being imminent. The Maloofs allegedly agreed to a deal for a new arena in Sacramanto last year, but famously backed out, thus alienating themselves in the city the Kings have called home since 1985. The Maloofs have fallen on hard times financially as their Las Vegas club The Palms is losing money.
The sale of the team seemed a forgoen conclusion to those follwing the story. It was just amatter of finding the right opportunity. That's when Ballmer and Hanson fell in their lap. The teams most often mentioned as a potential destination for the beleaguered Kings franchise were Anaheim, Virginia Beach and Kansas City. VB recently pulled out of the running, Anaheim has been considered too tricky due to having the Clippers and Lakers in that market already, and KC doesn't appear to have any momentum.
Steve Hanson emerged last year when he led the charge to build a multi-purpose area in the "South of Downtown" area of Seattle (aka SODO). The new arena, funded by a mix or private and public funding, will be built on the south end of where the Seahawks stadium is. Hanson bought the land with the intent to build an arena and bring the NBA, and possibly a n NHL team, to Seattle.