March 09, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Recording artist Drake with Sacramento Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof after the game against the Dallas Mavericks at Power Balance Pavilion. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Dallas Mavericks 110-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Are The Maloofs Using Seattle To Force Sacramento’s Hand?


April 26, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings owner George Maloof after the win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Power Balance Pavilion. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 113-96. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The thought sounds silly, doesn’t it?? There’s no doubt some Seattle fans will laugh at the idea, but the majority of Seattle fans don’t follow the Maloof family on a day in, day out basis nor have they dealt with their absurd antics for the past fifteen years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned personally and King fans will vouch, it’s to never, ever, trust the Maloof family.

I don’t say that as a bitter fan, upset at the notion of losing his team – I say that as somebody who has personally witnessed the constant charade. The Maloof family is a despicable bunch. I could spend hours running down an itemized list of the harm they’ve caused both the city and fans – but the once loved family who brought the Kings to the top of the world has taken them down faster than a building scheduled for demolition, topping it off with the sale of the franchise to the Seattle based Hansen group.

They’ve refused to return calls from potential Sacramento investors. They’ve ignored e-mails. They want nothing to do with Sacramento right now – quite odd, in all honesty. What did Sacramento do to them to make them feel the need to leave in the cover of night? They have buyers who want the team. Sacramento brought them millions in investment dollars both previously and currently when they’ve asked. Fans and businesses renewed season tickets and luxury boxes at an alarming rate despite the product on the floor being heavily sub-par. Something just doesn’t make sense.

You wouldn’t normally think of the Maloof family as high quality businessmen. Anything they’ve touched has spoiled and done so quickly. If it wasn’t the Palms Casino it was the WNBA’s Monarchs. If it wasn’t either of those, it was their family beer distribution or the Kings franchise, two thriving enterprises that they buried in just a few short years. Their smaller investments have went belly up in months and their money is leaking oil quicker than a burst pipe. Yet – despite all of that, could the Las Vegas based family be saving their best business move for last?

Make no mistake – I have no doubts that the Maloof family would sell to the Seattle based Hansen group at the drop of a hat – which they have. They’re out for money. Yes, they do love their spotlight but they love money more. However, if they can capture both – it’s a dream scenario.

When the Maloof family was looking to sell the franchise to Henry Samueli in Anaheim, they made no secret that they wanted a sweetheart of a deal. They’ve had buyers contact them over and over throughout the years yet, they never sold – in fact – they flat denied anybody that made an offer. Odd for a family who was struggling financially. Maybe they thought they could find their way out of the massive debt they created, but more likely, they were hoping to tread water until a desperate sucker came along.

Enter Chris Hansen and his group.

I don’t use the desperate term in a negative light towards Mr. Hansen and his group – but it’s fact. He wants a team and he wants it right now. Memphis and New Orleans are now off the market and the Charlotte Bobcats are a few years away from being sold and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever be put up for sale. That leaves the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings as the only available franchises and with rumors of an impending sale to an Illinois businessman, the Bucks are most likely going to be off the board as well, leaving the Kings as the only option. Mr. Hansen knows this. The Maloof family knows this.

Sure, expansion is there but that’s a few years away at least and who knows if the NBA would allow it let alone in the time frame Mr. Hansen and his group desire, so with no other options, it’s all in on the Sacramento Kings.

The Las Vegas loving Maloof’s are fully aware of this – but more importantly – they crave it. It’s the perfect storm. Power is a beautiful thing and they’re ready to play the games that made their casino at one time, be the toast of the town. Who blinks first?

With a desperate ownership group in Seattle and a desperate fan base in Sacramento, the Maloof family has pitted two pitbulls against each other with nothing to lose on the outcome. They’re betting with house money – losing isn’t an option. They know that if they didn’t get into discussions and an agreement to sell to the Hansen group, there was absolutely no way that Sacramento was going to put forth the energy or more importantly money, to give them an offer that they deem worthy. They had to put the cities back to the wall and essentially now have a “backup” plan in Sacramento. By selling to Sacramento, they don’t have to worry about paying back any debt – there isn’t any worry of being denied by the NBA – it’s an easy in, easy out scenario. They get their money (money that they wouldn’t have got mind you, without getting an agreement in Seattle) and they’re out like a thief in the night. Now, again, the Maloof family is looking out for only one group – themselves – they’re not actively looking to help Sacramento nor are they looking to help Seattle, but they do have ties to the California capital and outside of money there’s little they love more than glory. So getting big time money from Sacramento and letting the Kings stay local? They’ve be loved again – and as we saw during the arena saga, they’re not exactly the most thick skinned group of people so being looked at as the good guys again most certainly appeals to them.

So where am I going with all of this you ask? Put simply – the Maloof family has found two desperate parties who are pulling out every final stop, every last dollar, to get what they want. The Maloofs are the only operation in town and they are going to milk it for everything it’s worth and if that means using Sacramento and Seattle in the process, so be it. They don’t care who they hurt – all they see are dollar signs. There’s no way Sacramento would have come close to an offer like the one Seattle gave if the Kings weren’t on their way out – none. You know it. I know it. But now that push has come to shove and there is no tomorrow if Sacramento doesn’t present a deal similar to Seattle’s, they’ve forced the hand of Sacramento to buck up and give them what they deem a worthy deal. The only thing better for them is a bidding war and it’s quite possible we may see one.

Jan 10, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings fan and Sacramento resident Brianna Cervantes, 8, holds a sign against the Maloof

The Maloof family is completely fine selling to the Hansen group if that’s the way it goes down – but as anybody who has followed the Maloof’s knows, they’re also loving the idea of getting similar financials and being the “saviors” of Sacramento basketball if the Sacramento community and investors can find a way to get the sale stopped. They can’t lose. Two-faced isn’t even the word. Unfortunately for Seattle fans, they haven’t seen that other lovely side of the Maloofs – we sadly have. That’s not to say the sale wont go through, but putting your faith in the Maloofs to follow through? I’ve read that book one too many times.

They had to do this to get Sacramento to step up to the plate. Ironically, the normally poor businessmen have saved their best for last.

If Sacramento can’t get the job done – they come out smelling like a rose. If Sacramento can get the job done – it’s an even better scenario for them.

Yet, there will be a group of fans, be it Sacramento or Seattle – completely heartbroken over their greed and shady ways.

Great way of doing business, isn’t it?

Tags: Featured Maloofs Relocation Sacramento Kings

  • Marilyn Kenyon

    Great piece, Bryan!