The Maloofs maneuvered behind the backs of fans and officials in Sacramento to negotiate an agreement with a Seattle-based group of investors for the sale of a majority ownership interest in the Kings franchise back in January, but now it appears they would be willing to do that same deal with a local group of investors to keep the team in Sacramento. The Maloofs are eager to get a deal done, and at this point it doesn't seem to matter to them whether the money comes from the Chris Hansen-led group in Seattle or the Sacramento-based group including Vivek Ranadive, Mark Mastrov, Paul Jacobs and Mark Friedman (via Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee):
On Thursday, sources close to the Maloofs said that if the Sacramento group submits a matching offer that satisfies the league's other owners, they will embrace an outcome that keeps the Kings in Sacramento.
"We're giving Sacramento every opportunity to keep the team," one source said Thursday, "but they keep blowing every deadline. We haven't seen anything in writing."
Each group made a formal presentation to a panel of NBA owners earlier this month, and Commissioner David Stern has been working behind the scenes to strengthen Sacramento's bid, but the NBA Board of Governors has yet to hold a formal vote to decide the fate of the Kings.
The Maloofs included some interesting provisions in their controversial agreement -- including a $30 million non-refundable deposit from Chris Hansen -- so in a somewhat desperate effort to protect that initial sum of money they issued a deadline of Friday at 5 p.m. PT for the Sacramento group to match the initial offer in writing.
The Sacramento investors will fully match the offer, but as they see it, that $30 million is simply the cost of doing business with the Maloofs (via Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports):
The root of the Maloofs' angst is the disagreement about where Sacramento's offer stands. The Maloofs continue to privately question whether the Sacramento group is willing to match Seattle's offer and are concerned Hansen might sue them if he not only loses out on the team, but also loses money in the process. But a person with knowledge of the situation said it was made clear to the NBA at an April 3 meeting in New York that the Sacramento side will fully match the offer. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the negotiations.
Why are the Maloofs so anxious to get the deal done immediately? They are looking to buy a different sports franchise and have been in contact with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about possibly bringing a team to Las Vegas, according to Voisin's report in The Sacramento Bee. It's a curious move for a generation of Maloofs that haven't exactly established a strong reputation for running a sports franchise well, but that development is a peripheral storyline that can only develop once the fate of the Kings has been determined.
For extensive coverage of the Kings' bid and the sale of the franchise, be sure to check out the StoryStream at Sactown Royalty.