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NBA Set to Return to Seattle at Sacramento’s Expense

Seattle’s gain is Sacramento’s loss. Only a dissenting vote from NBA owners will stop the Kings from moving to the Great Northwest.

The Maloof family, owner of the Kings, has agreed to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen, the league confirmed in a statement Monday morning. The deal is still pending a vote by the NBA Board of Governors.

Hansen’s group will buy 65 percent of the franchise, which is valued at a total price of $525 million, move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name, sources told The Associated Press. The deal will cost the Hansen group a little more than $340 million. The Maloofs will have no stake in the team.

The sale figure works off a total valuation of the franchise, which includes relocation fees. Hansen’s group also is hoping to buy out other minority investors.

The Maloofs will get a $30 million nonrefundable down payment by Feb. 1, according to the deal, the source said. They will still be allowed to receive other offers until the league approves the sale.

The plan by Hansen’s group is to have the team play at least the next two seasons in Key Arena before moving into a new facility in downtown Seattle. The deadline for teams to apply for a move for next season is March 1.

”We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members. We would also like to thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise,” Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof said in a statement on behalf of the family.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA all-star, said last week he had received permission from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counteroffer to league owners from buyers who would keep the Kings in Sacramento.

”Sacramento has proven that it is a strong NBA market with a fan base that year in and year out has demonstrated a commitment to the Kings by selling out 19 of 27 seasons in a top 20 market and owning two of the longest sellout streaks in NBA history,” Johnson said.

”When it comes to keeping the team in our community, Sacramento is playing to win. In particular, we have been focused like a laser on identifying an ownership group that will both have the financial resources desired by the NBA and the vision to make the Kings the NBA equivalent of what the Green Bay Packers have been in the NFL.”

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