Source: Seattle group has backup deal with Maloofs

SEATTLE — If the NBA Board of Governors denies the pending sale and relocation of the Sacramento Kings, the Seattle group seeking to purchase the franchise has a backup deal with the Maloof family.

The backup agreement would have the Seattle group, led by investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer, purchase a limited ownership of the Maloofs stake in the Kings, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Saturday. The limited partnership would be a purchase of at least 20 percent of the Maloofs stake in the franchise at a valuation of $600 million.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publically discuss the details of the offer. ESPN.com first reported the backup deal. If the backup plan is used, the Maloofs would retain majority ownership of the franchise and continue to run the team in Sacramento. But Hansen’s group would hold a two-year right to purchase a majority interest of the franchise at a later date.

If Hansen’s group became limited partners in the Kings the sale would still need approval from the Board of Governors.

News of the backup offer came after Hansen and Ballmer already upped the stakes on Friday when they announced they had increased the valuation of the Kings from $550 million to $625 million in another attempt to sway NBA owners to allow him to buy the franchise and move it to Seattle. The revised offer was sent to the league and owners earlier this week.

The latest offer by the Seattle group would also include a relocation fee of $115 million, or roughly $4 million per franchise, and include a contribution from the Maloof family. That is $85 million more than Clay Bennett paid when he moved the SuperSonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008.

But this backup offer from Hansen’s group would only come into play if the BOG denies the sale and move of the Kings to Seattle. The BOG is meeting in Dallas on Wednesday and is expected to vote on the matter then. The league’s relocation committee recommended unanimously nearly two weeks ago to deny the relocation of the Kings to Seattle.

Hansen has had a deal since January to buy a 65 percent controlling interest in the Kings from the Maloof family. He originally offered a total valuation of $525 million, and then increased that offer to $550 million after a competing Sacramento group matched his deal. The Maloofs have been steadfast throughout the process of their desire to sell to the Hansen and Ballmer group.

Hansen, in announcing the increased offer Friday, said the Seattle group’s arena proposal was more advanced than the one in Sacramento. He said the Seattle ownership group had bought all of the needed property, had 100 percent of the private financing “committed and in place” and added that the environmental review process was further along.

“While we appreciate that this is a very difficult decision for the league and owners, we hope it is understood that we really believe the time is now to bring the NBA back to Seattle, and that it is paramount that we do everything we can to put Seattle’s best foot forward in this process,” Hansen said.

What remains unknown, and likely won’t be answered until the BOG meeting, is if the revised valuation and the backup offer will sway votes. The potential of an increased purchase price would also raise the value of other franchises, but NBA Commissioner David Stern has said repeatedly during the process that this would not become a bidding war.

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