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Seattle ups bid $75 million in last ditched attempt to buy Kings

May 10, 2013, 3:53 PM EDT

Kings Sale Basketball AP

What NBA commissioner David Stern has said from the start is that he did not want a pure bidding war for the Sacramento Kings. In part because that puts more money in the pockets of the Maloof family, and who wants that?

But after losing out when the NBA’s relocation committee unanimously recommended against the move of the Kings, essentially killing the sale to his Seattle based group — instead essentially favoring a matching bid from Sacramento — Seattle’s Chris Hansen essentially has turned to a bidding war.

The Seattle group upped its valuation of the team by $75 million to $625 million total, Hansen announced on (first reported by Chris Daniels at That would up their out of pocket money (they are buying 65 percent of the team) by about $49 million.

“In an effort to further demonstrate the extent of our commitment to bring basketball back to Seattle, we have elected to voluntarily increase our proposed purchase price for the Sacramento Kings NBA Franchise by $75 million — from an enterprise value of $550 million to $625 million,” Hansen wrote. “In conjunction with our revised offer, we have also guaranteed to the NBA that the Franchise would be a revenue sharing payer in all years in Seattle.”

We’ll see, but I doubt it matters — what owners have said about the decision (and before) that this was not about Seattle’s offer being bad so much as Sacramento rallying like pro sports leagues want their cities to do to save a team.

Our man on the ground on this issue, Aaron Bruski, is hearing the same thing.

Sacramento officials don’t seem too concerned.

“We feel very confident about the position we are in right now,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said in a released statement. “The NBA leadership and owners have always said that their decision would not be dictated by a bidding war. This was always about whether Sacramento, a community that has supported the NBA for 28 years, can put together a plan and organization to ensure the franchise can rebuild and thrive. The ownership group, the city, and the community have shown the NBA, without any shred of doubt, that the Sacramento Kings belong in Sacramento. I believe the NBA owners realize that there is far more to think about than just an increased bid.”

This feels more like Hansen is just making a backcourt heave at the buzzer. That said, it could put pressure on the league in regards to an expansion team, it also could help if he decides to go to court on anti-trust grounds.

Months ago the Maloofs had struck a deal to sell the team to a Seattle group led by venture capitalist Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. From Stern on down the league had called this a good offer that included a new stadium and more.

However, rallied by Mayor Kevin Johnson in Sacramento, that city put together a counter-offer that was led by their own billionaire — Vivek Ranadive, a Silicon Valley guy who is a minority owner of the Warriors — and they had plans for a new stadium as well.

As several owners said off the record — and some now-deleted twitter DMs from Heat owner Micky Arison explained — the owners backed Sacramento because the incumbent had rallied to put together a public-private partnership that is the kind of thing the league wants to see. It was really not about Seattle losing so much as Sacramento winning.

Although Hansen and Seattle still felt like they lost — and like they were used as leverage to force a better deal out of another city.

So they upped the offer to put more pressure on the deal. We’ll see if it matters, but you know how often backcourt shots at the buzzer fall.

  1. jthammerstix - May 10, 2013 at 4:02 PM


  2. joegalvan02 - May 10, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    the real reason Sacramento won the bid, is because they offered to OPT OUT of revenue sharing. the money they should/could/would get from the league’s shared revenue pool will now go back out to the rest of the teams. which makes perfect sense for a struggling franchise.

    it’s like a starving homeless guy being handed a sandwich, then forced to give it back as a payment for standing on the pavement.

    • ss3walkman - May 10, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      Hansen has recently added that to his offer. It was not a part of the offer that was considered when the relocation committee voted to recommend that the team stay in Sacramento.

      • joegalvan02 - May 10, 2013 at 7:32 PM

        good info. that changes a lot.

  3. dbp29 - May 10, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Good luck getting the Maloofs to accept the Sac group offer after this $$ increase.

    The Kings may stay in Sacramento for now, with the Maloofs still as owners, while they try to figure out how to sell to the Hansen group.

    This is just getting ugly for everyone involved.

    • Kurt Helin - May 10, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      The Maloofs have the right to hold on to the team, unless you think they so need the money they have no choice but to sell to the Sacramento group. And that is where the smart money is.

  4. heat256 - May 10, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Why not just have the NBA lobby for expansion? Don’t they realize to buy the Kings means they get Kings players too? That’s like seeing a turd for $50 and offering to pay $500 just so someone else doesn’t buy it cheaper.

    • erckle31 - May 10, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      The Kings roster is really not too shabby. Cousins, Tyreke, Thomas, and Thornton are pretty good players (Thomas is debatable). Cousins could easily be a franchise player if he could find a brain, which I think a great coach could help him do. This team really isn’t as far away from being semi-competitive as most people think.

  5. bnwpnw - May 10, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    The NBA’s contempt for Seattle is really amazing, and all because some politicians snubbed Stern during his shakedown tour of the region years ago. Not one encouraging word from the NBA at this juncture about Seattle’s chances at a franchise now or in the future, expansion or otherwise. So what else was Hansen supposed to do?

    If Seattle gets the shaft again, I predict most folks in the area will say “enough,” the current coalition will implode, and the city and state will be a black hole of NBA non-interest for decades (call it “The Stern Hole”). Don’t forget to black out that whole market area (including all the Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing corporate money) when negotiating that new TV deal, Silver.

  6. law1orde - May 10, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Seattle shafted? The voters there said they didn’t care to support the team when their ownership group asked them to do so. So the ownership and the NBA moved the team to OKC who was thrilled to support the franchise. Seattle then cried foul and claimed their franchise was stolen by OKC when in fact they gave it away. Now Seattle is engaged in trying to steal a franchise from another city who IS willing to support their Kings. I am sorry Seattle but you asked for this.

    • Kurt Helin - May 10, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      Let’s be fair, Sacramento voted down a public plan to fund an arena as well. It’s not that simple.

      • law1orde - May 10, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        Yes, but Sacramento got their act together quickly while Seattle fans cried and moaned and tried to lay it all on Stern, OKC, and other bogeymen. No one likes a whiner. Everyone loves a winner.

    • asimonetti88 - May 10, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      Like Kurt said, Sacramento voted down a plan for public financing. However, the difference is that Stern stepped in in Sacramento, whereas he did not in Seattle.

    • asimonetti88 - May 10, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      Not to mention, I hate when people say voting for public funding of arenas is “supporting your team”. Voting for public funding of arenas is the worst thing possible. Do we vote to use taxpayer funds to build facilities for companies like Google, Starbucks, Microsoft, AT&T, Apple, etc.? Why do we have to vote for stadiums for sports teams?

      • law1orde - May 10, 2013 at 6:20 PM

        That is the right position if you do not want a professional sports franchise in your city.

      • jiminauburn - May 10, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        No, but they did give Boeing $3B in tax breaks over a 20 year period. Boeing then can use that money for anything they want. So it is like the government is giving them $3B in cash instead of building an arena for them.

    • jiminauburn - May 10, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      Think of it this way. Hansen buys the Kings. Says “I am keeping the Kings in Sacramento” many times when people worry that he might want to move the team. Then tells Sacramento he wants them to build a $600M arena all at tax payer expense. Would Sacramento say “fine” or would they be like the government in WA and say, “No”? So then Hansen sells off any good players, makes the team real crappy, so that support for the team erodes. Then he says, “Hey, I have no support in Sacramento”, and moves the team to Seattle.

      This is exactly what Clay Bennett did in Seattle. If Chris Hansen did this in Sacramento, would you then say it is the fault of Sacramento that the team moved?

      • jchrish24 - May 11, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        This is exactly what the maloofs did. This is NOT the first time they’ve tried to get the team out of Sacramento. It’s almost personal between the mayor and the maloof family.

  7. hawkasauras - May 10, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    heat256 May 10, 2013, 1:51 PM PST

    Why not just have the NBA lobby for expansion? Don’t they realize to buy the Kings means they get Kings players too? That’s like seeing a turd for $50 and offering to pay $500 just so someone else doesn’t buy it cheaper.

    That’s actually what a lot of people in Seattle were hoping for but the NBA said it wasn’t on the table.

    • Kurt Helin - May 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      David Stern has said (and I have heard the same thing from other sources) that the majority of owners do not want to expand right now. That’s DOA.

  8. ss3walkman - May 10, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    There’s so much money to be made in Seattle. Seattle’s fan base and loyalty has grown a great deal since losing the Sonics. Sounded games have a great turn outs. Seahawks games are always sold out! And sports apparel never stays on shelves.

    I try to look at the bigger picture when it comes to things. I get what the owners who suggested the Sacramento Kings stay are trying to say. They’re saying they like the way Sacramento fought to stay and to reward them they want to keep the Kings in Sacramento. Ok, that’s understandable. But what about California having 4 teams? Seattle is a bigger market besides the obvious LA and the league can benefit more from Seattle.

    Why not an expansion team in Seattle?

    Why has the dynamics from the Seattle sell changed when it comes to Sacramento?

    Seattle is the more favorable and ideal location for a team. So now it’s about the NBA looking good and keeping a team in Sacramento?

    Oh well.

    Michael Jordan should strongly consider moving his team to Seattle

    • eugenesaxe - May 11, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      “Michael Jordan should strongly consider selling his team to Seattle”

      Corrected, in the best interest of the NBA.

  9. robonious - May 10, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    This is headed for a lawsuit now. And the NBA will lose.Just like the NFL did.

  10. kevinjonheller - May 10, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    What seems to be lost in much of the reporting about the competing bids is that Hansen has made it clear he is willing to buy the team even if it remains in Sacramento. The Maloofs are under no obligation to sell to the NBA’s preferred ownership team; the purchaser simply cannot move the team to Seattle. Hansen’s plan is a brilliant one, because Sacramento’s plan to build a new arena has always been smoke and mirrors; no one outside of Sacramento thinks the city can pull it off. So Hansen buys the team, waits for the stadium plan to collapse, and then petitions the league again for approval — at which point the NBA will have no choice but to let the team move.

    As I said, brilliant.

  11. jrazz22 - May 11, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    May 10, 2013, 5:40 PM PDT
    What seems to be lost in much of the reporting about the competing bids is that Hansen has made it clear he is willing to buy the team even if it remains in Sacramento. The Maloofs are under no obligation to sell to the NBA’s preferred ownership team; the purchaser simply cannot move the team to Seattle. Hansen’s plan is a brilliant one, because Sacramento’s plan to build a new arena has always been smoke and mirrors; no one outside of Sacramento thinks the city can pull it off. So Hansen buys the team, waits for the stadium plan to collapse, and then petitions the league again for approval — at which point the NBA will have no choice but to let the team move.

    As I said, brilliant.
    Brilliant? The city and the Maloofs had an arena deal in place several years ago until the Maloofs backed out.

    You’re obviously a hypocrite Seattle fan who cries at the injustice that was done to Seattle, yet has no problems tearing a team away from a city that has supported a franchise that has only had a few great years of success. Absolutely pathetic.

    • asimonetti88 - May 11, 2013 at 2:04 AM

      I’m a Lakers fan, and sorry, but he’s right. The Seattle group has absolutely zero incentive to back out of this deal. If they end up as owners, they will pull a Clay Bennett and allow the stadium deal to fall through.

      The worst part about this, if Hansen had pulled a Bennett from the start, claimed he was interested in keeping them in Sacramento and only “changed his mind” after purchasing them, he’d have the team now. Stern is basically punishing Hansen for being honest, while he rewarded Bennett for lying.

    • kevinjonheller - May 11, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      What a thoughtful, intelligent response. Sorry to say that you’re not quite as psychic as you think you are — I’m from Colorado, I’ve been a Bulls fan my entire life, and I have been to Seattle only once, 15 years ago. I couldn’t care less which city has the Kings.

  12. manchestermiracle - May 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    It wasn’t a “bidding war” when Sacramento increased its offer to counter Seattle’s original proposal? But now that Seattle wants to sweeten the pot we get some selective crap from the NBA about how it’s not going to allow a “bidding war.” Only in anti-trust exempt professional sports do you get arbitrary (and unfair) decrees from tin-foil-hat egotists regarding who is allowed to buy what.

    Clay Bennett didn’t want to improve the Supersonics so they got sold to a group that moved them to OKC. Stern didn’t have a problem with that. Now the Goof Maloofs want to sell, but Stern is basically saying the highest bidder has no chance at buying the team in order to move it to Seattle. Remember that this is the same league “leadership” that stepped in to decide Chris Paul could be traded to one L.A. team but not the other. How much longer before this douche retires?

  13. seattlenative57 - May 11, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    I dare the NBA to deny the sale to Hansen at this price. They are literally begging to be sued for conspiracy to violate antitrust laws. Hansen isn’t going anywhere and neither are the Kings …. for the time being. If Hansen wins the sale, he’ll wait for Sacramento’s arena deal to implode and pack the vans later. This ain’t over by a longshot.

  14. spideysdog - May 11, 2013 at 6:15 AM

    die hard Seattle sports fan here.

    first off, since I blast him constantly, I have to give Kurt credit when it’s due. he called this all through the process.

    second, people, especially in Seattle seem to have revisionist history of the events that led to our Sonics leaving. Bringing up the 600 million fully public funded arena that Bennett demanded is foolish and makes us look foolish.

    the reality, is Howard Schultz went to the city, county and state for 3 years straight trying to make hay on a private / public partnership to with completely remodel Key Arena or build a new one. He was rebuffed every where he turned.

    Howard put the team up for sale trying to leverage politicians, and they didn’t budge. just made ridiculous statements like “basketball provides no cultural value” to a city.

    As for Bennett, anyone who believed him about keeping the team in Seattle is foolish. Clay had stated, even promised, his home city, when rthe Hornets went back to New Orleans after Katrina, that he would “bring NBA action back to Oklahoma City”.

    Lastly, Ballmer and Hanson were not involved then. if they were, they could have kept the Sonics here for half the money their offering to buy the Kings.

    Hansen knows the increased bid isn’t going to change the vote. What he is doing is three fold…
    1). force Sacramento to step up more
    2). show the owners the financial backing that a Seattle franchise will have
    3). setup the lawsuit he is already preparing. I would bet my home he already has the majority of the paperwork done.

    Like most major transactions, this will end up in the courts, anday get ugly.

    hopefully, some day, we have basketball back in Seattle

    • mrgrant23 - May 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      As a Kings fan i wish Seattle the best. The Super Sonics were amazing to watch sad to see them go but hopefully they will get a team back in time. As for the Kings, I just can’t wait for this dilemma to end! I hate the Maloofs so as long as they are out of the picture I don’t care who gets the Kings I just want the Maloofs out the of the NBA. So if the Maloofs don’t want to sell the team after all this BS I hope David Stern steps in and makes them sell the team because they are literally the worst owners of any professional sports team in History.

  15. Edward Santiago - May 11, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    why are other owners allowed to dictate who a team is sold to?

    • Kurt Helin - May 12, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      The owners did not prevent the sale, they prevented the team from being moved to Seattle. That will essentially kill the sale because Hansen/Ballmer don’t want to own the team in Sac.

      The owners of all professional sports have to approve any team sales, any new members of their club. If you think that seems pretty socialist for a bunch of Republicans that claim to be free market people (and fight for that when it is in their interest, especially outside the NBA) that is a discussion for another day.

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