The Maloof family completed its sale of the Kings to a California-based group headed up by TIBCO chairman Vivek Ranadive on Friday. The Ranadive group purchased the Maloofs' majority share of the Kings at a total franchise valuation price of $534 million, an NBA record.
The transfer of ownership comes three days after the NBA's Board of Governors unanimously approved a sale agreement between the two parties and officially ends years of uncertainty about the future of the franchise.
“We are pleased for both the Maloof family and the Ranadive group, but particularly pleased for the fans of the Kings,” NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement.
The completed sale marks the end of a 14-year ownership tenure for the Maloofs, who took majority control of the franchise in 1999 and enjoyed a trip to the 2002 Western Conference finals before falling on hard financial times in recent years.
"We congratulate Vivek Ranadive and the entire Sacramento investor group for their willingness to come forward and purchase the franchise for the people of Sacramento," George Maloof said in a statement. "We are confident they will provide the stewardship necessary to continue to guide the organization to successful levels."
Joe Maloof added: "The success of the Sacramento Kings has been due largely in part to the dedication and enthusiasm of our team members, coaches, players, and fans. Since our family has owned the franchise, the people of Sacramento have warmly brought the Kings into their hearts and for that we will always be grateful. As we look forward to an exciting new chapter in our family business enterprise, we will never forget the people of Sacramento and everything they have done for the Kings organization."
After exploring the possibility of relocating the franchise to Anaheim and Virginia Beach in recent years, the Maloofs reached an agreement to sell the Kings to a Seattle-based investment group led by Valiant Capital's Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer back in January. That deal involved a purchase of 65 percent of the team at an overall franchise valuation of $525 million. The group later filed the requisite paperwork to relocate the franchise to Seattle for the 2013-14 season, where the organization would take on the “SuperSonics” moniker, and then upped its offer multiple times, finally settling on a $625 million valuation. The original SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder in 2008.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and a number of investors -- including Ranadive, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, billionaire Ron Burkle and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs -- worked diligently to keep the Kings where they are, preparing a competing offer for the Kings and agreeing to terms on a new Downtown Plaza arena deal. Kings fans organized “Here We Buy” nights to show their support for keeping Sacramento’s only major professional sports franchise in town.
Ranadive, formerly a minority owner of the Warriors, reached an agreement to purchase the Kings from the Maloofs earlier this month at a reported valuation of $535 million. That deal came together after the Board of Governors voted to reject a proposed relocation of the franchise to Seattle.
Stern told reporters this month that Sacramento's efforts swayed the Board of Governors, who followed a recommendation from the league's relocation committee by voting down the planned move to Seattle.
“The [relocation] committee recommended to the board and it was adopted that if the Sacramento community could produce a site, a construction team, a financially strong ownership group and the kind of support by the city and the region that Mayor Johnson has galvanized that the appropriate outcome was to keep the team in Sacramento and that’s what they did," Stern said.
Although the Maloofs repeatedly requested that the NBA honor its sale agreement with the Seattle-based group over the last few months, George Maloof thanked the NBA and the league's Board of Governors on Friday.
“We respect and would like to acknowledge the NBA Board of Governors’ dedication and diligence in working through this process over the past several months," he said. "On behalf of my family, I would like to thank commissioner David Stern and the NBA staff who worked tirelessly on this transaction. I also would like to praise Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Sacramento City Council and staff for their efforts and loyalty to the Sacramento community."
The new Kings ownership group is wasting no time, as Ranadive has reportedly agreed to hire Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone as the Kings' head coach and will reportedly seek a new GM this summer as he attempts to snap the franchise's streak of seven straight lottery appearances. Sacramento will select No. 7 in this year's draft.
"Thanks to [the] entire NBA for approving sale of Kings to our organization," Ranadive wrote in a Twitter message on Tuesday. "It is an honor and a privilege to be part of such an amazing community." Forbes valued the Kings franchise at $300 million as recently as January 2012.