The group trying to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle is continuing to be relentless in its pursuit. That includes the current owners of the team, the Maloof family. And the NBA could be listening. Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, the deep-pocketed Seattle-based investors trying to acquire the team, have struck a new deal with the Maloofs that may create more drama in Sacramento and the league office. Two sources told ESPN.com the Maloofs have informed their fellow owners that if their deal to sell and relocate the Kings to Seattle is not approved by league owners next week, they will not sell the team to a Sacramento-based group that promises to keep the Kings in Sacramento. Instead, the cash-strapped Maloofs have made a "backup" agreement with the Hansen-Ballmer group to sell them 20 percent of the team for $125 million to allow the Maloofs to continue to operate the franchise. That new "backup" plan comes on the heels of Hansen's announcement on Friday that he had upped his offer to buy the Maloofs' 65 percent of the Kings to $409 million (from $358 million) for a total valuation of $625 million. Sources said that new proposal also included a $115 million offer to owners as a relocation fee, which would amount to about $4 million per team. By comparison, in 2008 when the Oklahoma City Thunder moved from Seattle, they paid a $30 million fee to the other owners. To consider these incredible new figures, the NBA relocation committee is planning to re-evaluate the Hansen-Ballmer offer and has scheduled another meeting ahead of next Tuesday's full owners' meeting in Dallas, sources said. Two weeks ago that same committee voted unanimously to reject the relocation request to Seattle and the full body of owners was expected to follow that recommendation. It appeared a prospective ownership group based in Sacramento had won and the team would stay long term. After three years of wrangling over the future of the Kings, it would not seem likely the owners would allow it to return to square one again. The Hansen-Baller's super aggressive, cash-laden increased offer is apparently causing at least some reconsideration. A league spokesman did not reply to a request for comment. Just as with relocation, teams cannot sell minority shares without approval from league owners. It's questionable whether the owners would approve of a group that clearly wants to team to end up in Seattle to buy a large stake in a team they vote to be kept in Sacramento. But they also cannot compel the Maloofs to sell the team.
Sources: Maloofs cut new deal
ESPN | May 11