The Neverending Kings/Sonics Saga Is Neverending

The official vote on whether to relocate the Kings or not is supposed to happen tomorrow.  As is widely known, the relocation committee voted 7-0 to reject the move.  As is a little less widely known, the vote was actually 4-3 in favor of rejecting the move, but in an effort to feign unanimity, there was an agreement to re-vote to make it 7-0 in favor of whatever actually won.

4-3 is a lot different than 7-0.  4-3 indicates a much closer vote.  4-3 indicates that this is a difficult decision.  4-3 indicates we’re VERY close to swaying things the other way.

As such, Chris Hansen & Steve Ballmer have increased their bid by another $75 million, for a total valuation of $625 million.  That’s $100 million more than the original agreed-upon price.  A couple of questions come to mind, as we’re told the Sacramento group is unwilling to match:

  1. If Hansen & Ballmer had originally agreed to pay this amount to the Maloofs, would Sacramento have EVER matched?
  2. What does this increase in cash mean for the vote this week?

By some accounts, this increase means absolutely nothing.  The NBA is dead-set against moving the team out of Sacramento.  Period.  As long as Sacramento has its arena deal in place, and as long as they were able to match the original Hansen/Ballmer bid, that’s good enough for the NBA.

In an effort to not get my hopes up, that’s what I’m choosing to believe.  I think it’s nothing more than a formality:  the vote will go in Sacramento’s favor.

Which makes this other bit of news a little more interesting.  The increase in the Seattle offer happened last Friday.  The following day, it was leaked that the Maloofs and the Seattle group reached a backup deal – in the event that the NBA rejects the move to Seattle – where Hansen/Ballmer will purchase 20% of the Kings right now and the Maloofs will continue to run the team for another year.

They have vowed to not sell to the Sacramento group.  Truth be told, I’m not so sure how much I want to trust the word of the Maloofs.  I think they could certainly be swayed to change their minds at a moment’s notice.  I tend to believe that they would RATHER sell to the Hansen/Ballmer group, but I think if they figure out a way to get their money, then they won’t really give two shits who ends up with the team.

Which leads me to my big conspiracy theory that I just thought up:  let’s say the NBA rejects the move.  And let’s say that the backup deal comes into effect.  That means Hansen/Ballmer now own 20% of the Kings (actually, 27% I guess?  Since Hansen already purchased that 7% that went up for sale after bankruptcy?) for however much they are projected to spend (anywhere from $120 to $125 million).  That leaves the Maloofs with 45% of the Kings.  The Sacramento group has already stated they will not match the new valuation of $625 million; they will stick with the valuation of $525 million.  However, what if they agree to purchase the remaining 45% of the team under the valuation of $625 million?  That would require them to pay only $281 million, which is less than the $341 million they would have to pay for 65% of the team under the $525 million valuation.  That would give them the majority of the Kings, it would screw over the Seattle group, AND the Maloofs would still get all the money they were promised under Hansen & Ballmer’s latest proposal.

That’s one way to screw the Seattle group out of the team.  Call it a longshot if you want, but never forget the Steve Hutchinson Poison Pill Contract.  People can be scumbags, especially if they’re desperate.  I wouldn’t put this past the Maloofs OR the Sacramento group.

Ostensibly, the Seattle group buying 20% of the Kings now as a consolation prize is a good thing.  It puts us in play.  It puts pressure on the city of Sacramento to get their arena deal in gear.  And, if they fail, we do this all over again next year.  Of course, if they succeed, then I suppose at that point the Seattle group has to bow out, but I’ve been wrong on that end before.

Every time I think this thing is done, Chris Hansen does something else to absolutely amaze me.  I still believe it is an incredible long shot that the Kings move to Seattle, but I’m happy to see we’ve got the right man running point on this.

We’ll find out tomorrow.  Or, we won’t.  Because the NBA will keep pushing things back until the end of fucking time.  Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

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