The owners of the Sacramento Kings have reached a deal to sell majority ownership in the franchise to a Seattle-based group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, ESPN's Marc Stein reported late Sunday. The Maloof brothers' proposed sale of 65 percent of the franchise would be worth about $340 million of the franchise's $525 million valuation, Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
But there is no agreement on the other 35 percent of shares, which are not owned by the Maloof brothers.
Stein reported that if the NBA approves the sale, the Seattle-based group will file for a bid for relocation by March 1. A rumored handshake deal between the groups has been rumored for much of the past week, but this is the first official word that a deal is imminent.
The fate of the Kings and a potential move to Seattle still remains unclear. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said last week that he has received approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counteroffer to the league to keep the team in Sacramento.
He said that the city is in a "six-week sprint" to prepare a proposal for the NBA's Board of Governors to consider against the Seattle group. If history is any indication, the former NBA star Johnson has a shot — he has successfully convinced the NBA that the city could provide long-term financial stability to the franchise, including the possibility of a new arena.
"We have a city and a community that have done every single thing that is required,'' Johnson said. "I hope Seattle gets another team. They deserve another team. They didn't deserve to lose a team in the first place. It just won't be the Sacramento Kings if we have anything to do with it.'"
The biggest NBA stars were shocked by the amount of the deal. LeBron James tweeted a hint of angst at the owners over the lockout that canceled a portion of the 2011-12 season: