SEATTLETIMES.COM - A sale of the Sacramento Kings to a group that will move them to Seattle was officially announced Monday morning.
Both the current majority owners of the team, the Maloof family, and the leader of the Seattle group, Chris Hansen, released statements confirming the sale.
"We are happy to announce that we have entered into a binding agreement with the Maloofs to purchase a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise," the Hansen statement read. "The sale is obviously subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors, and we look forward to working with the league in the coming months to consummate the transaction."
Varying reports stated the team was purchased for roughly $340 million, representing a 65 percent share of the franchise's assessed value of $525 million.
If approval comes from the NBA Board of Governors, the team could play in Seattle's KeyArena next season.
Hansen's statement continued to say:
"While we are not at liberty to discuss the terms of the transaction or our plans for the franchise given the confidential nature of the agreement and NBA regulations regarding public comments during a pending transaction, we would just like to extend our sincerest compliments and gratitude toward the Maloof family. Our negotiations with the family were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism and we hope to continue their legacy and be great stewards of this NBA franchise in the coming years and decades."
The Maloof family also announced the sale, saying:
"We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members. We would also like to thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise," said Gavin Maloof, Kings co-owner speaking on behalf of the Maloof family.
The sale would include a 53 percent share held by the current controlling owners of the Kings, the Maloof family, and 12 percent held by minority owner Bob Hernreich. Hansen's group and the Maloofs have been negotiating for several weeks.
The NBA released a statement that said, "The NBA received an executed Purchase and Sale Agreement for the transfer of a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family to an investor group led by Christopher Hansen. The proposed transaction is subject to the approval of the NBA Board of Governors and has been referred to the Board's committee process for review."
King County Executive Dow Constantine released a statement:
"The return of our hometown team is now within reach.
"I was a high school kid in the spring of 1979 when I joined 300,000 fellow fans on the streets of downtown Seattle to celebrate our SuperSonics winning the NBA Championship. Those were great days for our community.
"Thanks to Chris Hansen and his investment partners Steve Ballmer, Peter and Erik Nordstrom, and the strength of regional partnerships and our collective can-do spirit, we can now look forward to celebrating the day we can say, "Welcome home, Sonics!"
ESPN.com reported that other NBA teams were "formally notified Sunday night of the deal."
ESPN.com also reported that Hansen's group will give the Maloofs a nonrefundable deposit of $30 million by Feb. 1. ESPN.com also reported that the Maloofs may retain "a small piece" of the team. The remaining 35 percent of the team would apparently remain in hands of the current minority shareholders.
The NBA's Board of Governors will meet in New York in mid-April.
But Yahoo.com reported that their approval would be "a formality" and that the team would play in KeyArena beginning next season. The team would likely play in KeyArena for two years while a proposed arena in the Sodo District is constructed.
An investment group led by Hansen finalized a deal with Seattle and King County in October to build a $490 million sports and entertainment venue in the Sodo neighborhood with $200 million in public money to be repaid through revenue generated by the facility. Two lawsuits are challenging the financing and the location.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former three-time NBA All-Star, said last week he has received approval from the NBA to present a counteroffer at the Board of Governors meeting. He is attempting to put together an ownership group and an arena plan that would match Seattle's, allowing the team to stay put. Several Sacramento media outlets reported Johnson could announce the specifics of the ownership group this week.
NBA Commissioner David Stern confirmed last week that Johnson would be given a chance to state the city's case before the Board of Governors in April. Johnson will be hoping to repeat what he did in 2011, when he was able to help convince the NBA not to let the Maloofs relocate the team to Anaheim.
In a statement Sunday night, Johnson said the city will continue its fight for the team. "When it comes to keeping the team in our community, Sacramento is playing to win," the statement read. "In particular, we have been focused like a laser on identifying an ownership group that will both have the financial resources desired by the NBA and the vision to make the Kings the NBA equivalent of what the Green Bay Packers have been in the NFL."
The NBA has a deadline of March 1 for teams to file for relocation.
In another twist, longtime NBA writer Peter Vecsey tweeted that former Lakers and Bulls coach Phil Jackson could be involved with a new Seattle franchise in a front-office role. Vecsey wrote that Jackson would not coach but would "mentor" the team's coach. Jackson's son Charlie and Hansen are reported to be close friends.
Seattle has been without an NBA team since 2008 when the Sonics were relocated to Oklahoma City by new owner Clay Bennett.
Hansen has spent the past year laying the groundwork for an arena deal and attempting to buy a team to move to Seattle.
The Kings have played in Sacramento since moving from Kansas City in 1985.
The Kings' franchise dates to 1945 beginning play in Rochester and later moving to Cincinnati and then Kansas City.
The Kings are currently 16-25 with a roster that includes two area players in former UW guard and Curtis High alum Isaiah Thomas, and Aaron Brooks of Franklin High.