Among the reasons the owners of the Sacramento Kings want to sell the franchise is their pursuit of a Major League Baseball or NHL team -- and an agreement to keep their NBA team in Sacramento is not out of the question, according to a report by Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee.
The Maloofs -- who have already met with NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman -- placed a 5 p.m. deadline Friday for a Sacramento-based group of investors to submit a matching offer for the Kings. Seattle investors led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer already have an agreement with the Maloofs to buy a majority interest in the Kings for $341 million with the intent of relocating the team to Seattle.
The Maloofs reportedly rejected an offer designed to relocate the Kings to San Jose.
Voisin reports sources close to the Maloofs said the family will accept a matching offer from the Sacramento investors if it satisfies the league's parameters. The NBA board of governors must approve all sales and relocations.
According to the Bee, the sources said:
• An agreement that keeps the Kings in Sacramento must include reimbursement to Hansen for his $30 million nonrefundable deposit.
• Before being completely surprised by the size of the Hansen/Ballmer offer, the Maloofs had rejected overtures from Ron Burkle and Larry Ellison. Ellison would have attempted to relocate the Kings to San Jose.
• The Maloofs have met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and have for months looked into buying a hockey franchise, with Las Vegas among the possible destinations. Their interests also have expanded and included opportunities in Major League Baseball.
"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."Though the NBA clearly wants another franchise in Seattle, which lost the Sonics to Oklahoma City five years ago after similar and protracted arena wranglings, the league is reluctant to abandon Sacramento for a number of reasons, including TV market size (20th), proven viability and history of fan support, potential for economic and population growth, and lack of competition (the Kings are the only major-league sports franchise in town).