What’s the Maloofs’ next move in the Sacramento Kings relocation/arena saga?

Gavin Maloof after the 2012 city council vote to approve the building a new arena. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Where do the Maloofs go from here?

That is a question many in Sacramento would like answered considering what happened to the city last year.  In 2012, fans and community leaders were stunned by the Maloofs’ decision to back out of the deal with the city and AEG to construct a new downtown arena.  They were shocked that the saga had turned sideways and that there was nothing the NBA could do about it.

“We had an agreement in principle – a framework, a deal, you can call it anything you want,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said on the collapse of Sacramento’s previous arena plan following last year’s Board of Governors’ meetings.  “In my view, it was always subject to any party saying that it wanted to do it; it was always non‑binding.

“And I think it’s fair for the Maloofs to say, they don’t want to do it,” he added.  “If they had done that a little simpler, a little earlier and a little more directly, it could have saved a lot of angst and trouble.”

There has been speculation about what the Maloofs might do next.  One theory that has floated around is that they could keep the Kings and re-evaluate their options if the sale and move of the team is ultimately rejected by the NBA’s Board of Governors.  Though those close to the family have been pitching that notion, it doesn’t seem likely nor does it seem prudent.

Why?  Because a current selling point that has factored in the franchise’s $500-plus-million valuation will likely be off the table.

A major reason why the team has been valued at such an astronomical number is because of the Kings’ believed “portability”.  If the NBA Board of Governors follows suit with its relocation committee’s recommendation, the Maloofs would no longer be able to use “portability” as a major selling point to prospective buyers.

Denying relocation would send a message to cities like Seattle, Las Vegas, San Jose or Anaheim, hoping to extract a team from this particular NBA market.  You can attempt to lure the league to your community, but don’t expect to do so by agreeing to buy the Kings.

Assuming “portability” is no longer a factor, the Maloofs would be left with a drastically smaller pool of potential buyers, putting the family in a significantly weakened position to deal.  Prospective owners would know this and would likely lowball the Maloofs with a dramatically diminished payoff nowhere near the franchise’s current $500-plus-million valuation.

The NBA is expected to make a stance that only offers from prospective owners intending to making it work in Sacramento will be considered.  And right now, there is only one major investor group that has expressed interest in doing just that.

Chris Hansen issues statement on relocation committee recommendation

The man hoping to bring back the Sonics is apparently not ready to concede his effort.  Yesterday evening, Chris Hansen issued the following statement on his Sonics Arena website several hours after the NBA announced that its relocation committee is recommending against moving the Kings to Seattle.

While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we just wanted to let you all know that we remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through. As you are all well aware, we have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings for what would be a record price for an NBA franchise, have one of the best ownership groups ever assembled to purchase a professional sports team in the US, have clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid Arena plan, have offered a much higher price than the yet to be finalized Sacramento Group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow. As such, we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting in Mid-May.

When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible. While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” ―Muhammad Ali


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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