Apr 12, 2013, 1:11 PM EDT
The Maloof family — the owners of the Sacramento Kings still — were in the room with the Seattle group trying to buy the team when they made their pitch to a committee of owners last week. How much that really helped the Seattle group is up for debate — the one thing everybody on both sides of this debate agree on is they are sick of the Maloofs.
Next Thursday and Friday in New York the NBA owners (officially as a group called the Board of Governors) will meet in New York and among the topics to be discussed is whether to approve a sale of the Kings to a group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer — wealthy guys with a plan to move the team to Seattle starting next season and build a new arena.
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson put together a counter offer with billionaire money (Vivek Ranadive, Mark Mastrov, and Paul Jacobs) and a stadium plan of its own to get built near downtown Sacramento. It’s the kind of offer the NBA and other professional sports leagues want to see from cities with teams — a lot of public money and community support rallied around the franchise.
Anybody who tells you they know for sure what the owners will do next week is a fool — nobody is certain on this. But read the tea leaves and it seems Sacramento may have the eight votes they need to block the sale to the Seattle group.
And if that happens, as we have said before would likely happen, the Maloofs will sell to the Sacramento group.
This is confirmed by a new report in the Sacramento Bee — but it is the reasoning that is new. And kind of funny.
They want their money and they want to pursue another professional sports franchise in Major League Baseball or the NHL, hence their 5 p.m. deadline today for the Sacramento-based investors to submit a written matching offer for the Kings….
On Thursday, sources close to the Maloofs said that if the Sacramento group submits a matching offer that satisfies the league’s other owners, they will embrace an outcome that keeps the Kings in Sacramento.
To be up front, PBT never reported on the Friday deadline before now because it’s meaningless. It’s just the Maloofs trying to assert some control over a situation where they have no control. If Seattle is rejected the Maloofs only options are to sell to the Sacramento group or hold on to the team. So they will deal with Sacramento. And a deal will get done. The deadline is moot.
But let’s get to the key point — the Maloofs don’t want to hold on to a team because the guys too poor to field a quality NBA team want into the NHL business? Or the MLB business?
The Maloofs have met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and have for months looked into buying a hockey franchise, with Las Vegas among the possible destinations. Their interests also have expanded and included opportunities in Major League Baseball.
I know how popular Bettman is among hockey fans, what they think of his intelligence, but even then he is too smart to get into bed with the Maloofs. Right? Same with Bud Selig. Right?
The NBA owners do not have an easy choice next week — these are two good offers before them. Seattle is a bigger, wealthier market and its owners define the words “deep pockets.” But for a league that will go to more than a dozen cities in the next 12 years and say “you need to help us out with arena upgrades/a new arena” to walk away from a city that did everything a league could ask sets a bad precedent. The owners will ultimately vote what they think is best for their own pocketbooks long term. But nobody knows for sure what that choice will be.
One way or another, a week from now we should know the fate of the Kings. And then maybe this franchise and its fans can move on to the next step.
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