By Schuyler Dixon
The Associated Press
DALLAS — The Kings are staying in Sacramento, and Seattle will have to wait for another NBA franchise.
As for the ownership question that has kept the Kings in limbo for years, Commissioner David Stern wants it settled now.
League owners voted Wednesday to follow the recommendation of their relocation committee and reject an aggressive bid to move the Kings, and Stern promptly announced that he hoped to have a deal in place in 48 hours with a group that wants to buy the team from the Maloof brothers.
“And now we think that because the Maloofs have overall been very good for Sacramento and the Kings and the NBA, that they will be motivated to do something fast so that the franchise can get cracking,” Stern said.
The 22-8 vote by the Board of Governors rejected a deal that would have sold a 65 percent controlling interest at a total franchise valuation of $625 million to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen, who boosted the offer twice after the NBA showed an unwillingness to relocate.
Now the Maloofs will try to complete a deal at Hansen’s original price of $525 million — still topping the NBA record of $450 million — with a group put together by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former All-Star guard, and fronted by TIBCO software chairman Vivek Ranadive. The plan includes a new downtown arena.
“The committee decided — didn’t have any preconceived notions — but looking at both evenly they said that the edge went to the incumbent, so that’s the way it came out,” Stern said.
The vote ended an emotional saga that has dragged on for nearly three years. Hansen wanted to move the franchise and rename it the SuperSonics, who left Seattle for Oklahoma City in 2008 and were renamed the Thunder.
Hansen said in a statement posted on his website that he hoped to pursue a minority ownership role with the Maloofs, but Ranadive said his partners “haven’t really considered” the Maloofs maintaining a stake in the franchise.
Stern praised Hansen’s proposal and said the NBA might consider expansion once a new TV deal is in place, but said “we don’t have anything concrete.”
“Our day will come, and when it does, it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle,” Hansen said.