The NBA could be headed back to Seattle soon.
The Maloof family, the majority owners of the Sacramento Kings, reportedly is in negotiations to sell the team to two investors who have approval to build a new arena in Seattle.
No deal has been signed and both parties are still in the talks about the deal, The Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday, citing league sources. ESPN reported the Maloofs are still unsure they want to sell the team.
At a late afternoon press conerence, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame finalist, said he has "more than one" group interested in buying the team and keep the Kings from moving.
"I want the community to know that we're going to fight like crazy to get to where we need to be," said Johnson, who indicated he had interested investors from inside and outside the city.
Earlier in the day, Yahoo! Sports reported that a deal with the Maloofs to sell the Kings to a Seattle ownership group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hanson and Microsoft chairman Steve Balmer is close to being finalized.
The sale price reportedly would be approximately $500 million, the largest in NBA history. USA Today reported via sources that the NBA has told its owners not comment on any business involving the Sacramento franchise.
The new owners hope to move the Kings to Seattle's Key Arena for the 2013-'14 season. Plans are to build a new arena that would be ready after two seasons in the existing building.
The Maloofs, who are the majority owners of the Kings, would maintain a minority share in the team but have no control over the operations of the franchise, Yahoo! reported.
However, in the past two years the Maloofs have backed out of at least two deals involving the deal. They delayed moving the team to Anaheim, Calif., in April 2011 when the NBA asked them to give Sacramento another year to create an arena plan. They turned down an Sacramento arena deal brokered by NBA Commissioner David Stern in March. And, reportedly, this week they broke off talks with representatives of Virginia Beach, Va., who wanted to build an arena for the Kings in that city.
Seattle has been without an NBA team since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder. The Seattle franchise. which was born through expansion in 1967 and won an NBA title in 1979, would be allowed to reclaim the Sonics nickname.
The Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985 from Kansas City.