Kings sale: Could ownership clause keep team in Sacramento?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A clause in the Maloofs' ownership documents appears to grant minority owners of the Sacramento Kings a "right of first opportunity" to match a sale, a bit of legal wording that could keep the team from moving to Seattle.

Sacramento fans have their biggest reason for hope yet that they can keep the Kings from moving to Seattle, as the Maloofs' ownership document appears to grant minority owners the ability to match a sale.

The document from 1992 was obtained by Pro Basketball Talk, who pointed to the "right of first opportunity" granted to minority owners. The language in the document appears to plainly state that the non-Maloof partners would have an opportunity to prevent the team from being sold. That language is furthered in a 2003 addendum to the ownership documents, which also appears to necessitate that a new ownership group would also need to buy a matching percent of the minority stake in the team. The Maloofs themselves are counting on a clause that guarantees them the exclusive right to negotiate the sale of the team, but it doesn't seem as if this clause eliminates the right of first opportunity.

The document itself is legalese, although Sactown Royalty does a great job of breaking it down. The language certainly seems to be present to force some sort of court case to decide whether the Maloofs have the right to sell the team even if minority owners are willing to match. As Tom Ziller writes:

...this is the very opposite of a non-issue. It is a huge issue. At the very least, it will tie this sale up in court beyond April 19. At best, it will either result in a minority owner ponying up for the club or in Chris Hansen deciding that this sale is just too messy. We aren't guaranteed victory or anything like it. But this is good. Real good.

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