It’s a bit difficult to ever accuse anybody of screwing up a financial deal where they come out of it with a extra few hundred million dollars in the process, but then again, most people aren’t the Maloofs.
Hoping to sell the Sacramento King franchise to the Seattle based Ballmer-Hansen group and being fully aware of their intentions to relocate the franchise to the Emerald City, the Maloof family put in a request with the NBA to relocate the Kings. The request would not only get the team in Seattle quicker but also expedite funds to the Maloof pockets.
Of course, little did they know that Sacramento would come out swinging the way they did.
Many have compared this situation to that of the Sonics sale to Clay Bennett and suggested that Hansen could pull a similar move where he keeps the team local for a season or two before moving them. It’s incredibly silly and grasping at straws, but media is going to media, I guess.
What Bennett didn’t do though when he purchased the Sonics was request an immediate relocation. His intentions were relatively clear from the start, but unlike the Maloof family who requested to move the franchise, he simply went through with the purchase agreement and then once a venue couldn’t be completed in Seattle, did he attempt to move the team. It sounds almost like semantics, but it’s not. By the Maloof family requesting that the franchise also be relocated, it forced the NBA Finance and Relocation committees to look at not only the sale but the relocation as well.
Would the NBA have approved just a sale knowing that Hansen would essentially move the team, even if he stayed in Sacramento for a season or two? It’s hard to tell. They did with Bennett.
For the NBA, when it came to Seattle and Bennett, they looked at the situation like they do all relocation efforts – what has the incumbent city done to lose the team? Unfortunately at that time for Seattle, thanks to the building process of both the Seattle Mariners and Seattle Seahawk venues, the public wasn’t going to finance another stadium and that’s all the NBA needed to give the green light on relocation. And chances are, with the Ballmer-Hansen group lame-ducking Sacramento in a sale and having no desire to ever build a state of the art arena in Sacramento, they too could’ve met a similar fate as Seattle did with Bennett.
Thankfully for Sacramento, the Maloof family did file for relocation, forcing the NBA to look at what exactly Sacramento had done to lose the Kings. Their findings? Nothing. With the prospective ownership group willing to put a near identical amount of money in the Maloof pockets along with building a new downtown arena, there was no reason for the NBA to move the Kings. Seattle could’ve offered the world but as long as Sacramento was willing to offer something similar in return, the incumbent was always going to “win” that scenario.
In fairness to the Maloof family, they did find themselves somebody who was willing to overpay for one of the league’s smaller franchises – the sweetheart deal they’ve been apparently attempting to find for a decade or even longer, the result of that being an apparent record sale. But if they had such a vendetta against Sacramento, like so many have have tried to suggest, they certainly didn’t take the right steps in their potential sale to the Hansen-Ballmer group.
Nobody will ever know what would’ve happened had the Maloof family just sold the team to the Hansen-Ballmer group and let them deal with their own relocation in the next few years, but what we do know is their relocation bid was denied.
In the end, the Maloof’s may have “Maloofed” the relocation, ironically, in favor of Sacramento.