The Sacramento Kings' sale to a Seattle-based ownership group led by Chris Hansen is complete, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The Maloof brothers will sell the team to an ownership group led by Hansen for $525 million. The sale will encompass 65 percent of the team.
The deal still requires league approval, but the NBA announced that it has received the terms of the sale and is referring it to the relocation committee. If the relocation committee approves, the deal will be voted on officially by the NBA's Board of Governors in April.
The news is devastating for Sacramento fans and city officials, who have worked dilligently to try to find a local buyer that could outbid Hansen's group. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson will be allowed to present a city bid to the NBA board of governors, but with such little time to assemble all the logistics, it looks like that bid will not be accepted.
The franchise will officially file for relocation prior to the March 1 deadline, and if all goes well, it will begin in Seattle next season. The plan is for the Kings to play in the old KeyArena for two years before moving into a downtown arena that is currently being constructed. The plans to fund that arena were approved by both the city and county legislatures in October.
News of the Maloof brothers being on the verge of an agreement to sell the team to Hansen's group broke recently, but there had been some hope that the deal would fall apart. Reports leaked that the Maloof brothers wanted to maintain some control of the team, which slowed negotiations.
Meanwhile, Sacramento continued doing its best to keep the Kings. Mayor Kevin Johnson and others worked hard to find a local buyer that could match the Seattle sale price, and multiple names, including 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and a group headed by San Francisco investment group JMA Ventures, came forward. In the end, though, none of those people could offer what the Hansen-Ballmer group did.
Sacramento's long fight to keep its franchise will likely fall short. The relationship between the Maloofs and the city slowly deteriorated after 2006, when the residents rejected a measure that would have raised taxes to fund a new arena. Since then, multiple plans to find a location for the new stadium fell apart, including a handshake agreement last year that the owners went back on after celebrating with their fans at midcourt during a February home game. The family was divided throughout the process, but in the end, their financial downfall, heightened by the 2008 market collapse, convinced them they had no choice but to sell the team.
Assuming the deal is completed, the Kings ultimately will have stayed in Sacramento for 27 years after moving from Kansas City following the 1984-85 season. The team played its home games at the now-named Sleep Train Pavilion for all 27 of those years. The obvious high point of that time was in the early 2000s, when a team led by Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic rose to become one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The furthest they advanced in the playoffs was in 2002, when the Kings took the Los Angeles Lakers to overtime in Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. The series' result has been tainted recently due to questionable officiating.