Two weeks after a committee of NBA owners unanimously rejected a request to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, it appears the Maloof family, which owns the Kings, may be eyeing some type of end-around against the league, ESPN.com reported.
All NBA team owners are due to meet in Dallas on Tuesday to consider the sale of the Kings from the Maloof family to Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer, who would then move the team to Seattle. However, given that the ownership committee already turned down the relocation request, it's likely the rest of the league owners will follow suit.
If that happens, ESPN.com said, citing at least two sources with knowledge of the situation, the Maloof family would retain ownership of the Kings and keep them for the time being in Sacramento, but would then sell up to a 20 percent minority interest in the team worth $125 million to the Hansen/Ballmer group.
However, even selling a minority percentage would still require league owners approval.
That's where things may get tricky. While the Maloofs and the Hansen/Ballmer group have been working together on striking a deal, they have done so without much input to or from the NBA, according to ESPN.com. However, a competing group that wants to keep the team in Sacramento, led by that city's mayor, former NBA star Kevin Johnson, has been deeply involved in the process with the NBA to keep the team in place where it's at.
According to the ESPN.com story, the Maloof family has no intention of selling to the local Sacramento group if the sale/relocation to the Seattle group is turned down. At the same time, several media reports have the Hansen/Ballmer group upping their offer to buy the team to $625 million from $550 million.
The ESPN.com report also said that the new offer by the Hansen/Ballmer group is including a $115 million offer to the NBA as a relocation fee, which would break down to about $4 million to be awarded to every other NBA team. The last NBA team to relocate, the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City (became the Thunder) in 2008, paid each team just about $1 million in a relocation fee.
The NBA did not respond to requests for comment about the ESPN.com report.