Yesterday evening, there was an announcement that the Maloof family had come to a backup agreement with the Hansen-Ballmer group in which the Maloof’s would sell 20% of their stake in the Sacramento Kings franchise to the H-B group, while the Maloof family remains in control of the Kings franchise – at least for the time being.
On the surface, it looks great for Seattle.
Allowing the Hansen-Ballmer group to purchase 20% of the franchise would make them minority owners which would not only give them first right of refusal to purchase other shares of the Kings when the Maloof family does eventually sell (assuming they ever had a falling out and opted to sell to another outside entity), but it would also allow them to buy and sell shares of the Kings franchise without NBA approval – a key point.
Of course, with the Hansen-Ballmer group and Maloofs in an ownership position, the Kings would become a lame duck team. There would be zero desire to build a new entertainment complex in Sacramento. The Hansen-Balmer group along with the Maloof family certainly wouldn’t agree to it. So in essence, the Kings would play a few years in Sacramento, being as woeful as ever, simply meeting the NBA minimums to run an organization financially before they apply for relocation due to poor fan and financial support. And at that point, the hands of the NBA would be tied. It’s the perfect scenario in which an owner would request relocation and without support from the community, the NBA would approve the move. That’s the whole point of relocating a franchise. Sacramento would be nothing more than a hostage.
However – seemingly overlooked in this entire situation is the fact that you simply can’t buy your way into the NBA. Much like the 65% of the franchise that the Hansen-Ballmer group originally attempted to purchase (and still hopes to do so), the 20% that they would be buying in the backup scenario still requires the NBA to approve the sale.
Clearly, the NBA is fully aware of their intent here, so what’s the point of the backup agreement? There isn’t one.
The NBA doesn’t want to hold Sacramento hostage. Not only is it bad business, it’s a bad look. Granted, it’s a great PR move from the Hansen-Ballmer group and to the uneducated fan, it sounds good, but there’s zero point for the NBA to actually approve it. If the NBA wants basketball in Seattle, they’re going to approve the 65% sale – but of course, already denying relocation has put a pretty big dent into that idea. Could a last minute error on Sacramento’s part change that? Sure, why not. Anything is possible and as we’ve learned in this soap opera, nothing is final, so maybe that’s what the Hansen-Ballmer group is hoping for. But approving the 20% agreement would create even more headaches and be a waste of time and money for all parties involved.
It’s a cute idea, but not a realistic one. If Seattle is going to be awarded the Kings in a last ditch effort, it’ll be because of the 65%, as it always would have been.