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NBA reportedly pushing Kings owners to take Sacramento offer before vote

The NBA is reportedly telling the majority owners of the Sacramento Kings to take the city’s offer and reject their deal with Chris Hansen to move the team to Seattle, according to a key Sacramento insider.

R.E. Graswich, a former adviser to Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, said on his Twitter feed Thursday morning “Inside word is M’s [Maloof’s] have been told to take Sac offer for Kings, period.”

The league’s Board of Governors is scheduled to vote May 15 on whether to approve Hansen’s purchase and relocation of the Kings or reject it.

The Maloofs have said repeatedly they want the league to approve the Hansen deal. The NBA can’t force the family to accept a counter-offer from the Sacramento group led by software tycoon Vivek Ranideve, despite a 7-0 vote by the league’s relocation committee to block the Kings’ relocation.

In a statement following last month’s vote, Hansen vowed to keep fighting. He reportedly still has an “ace up his sleeve,” according to sources close to the hedge fund manager, which could include a legal challenge.

Supporters of the effort to bring the NBA back to Seattle argue the league has violated antitrust laws by potentially interfering with the legally binding sales agreement between Hansen’s group and the Maloofs.

“Given that Seattle has a viable arena plan and that it is the 12th largest media market in the country, prohibiting Hansen from moving here would be a restraint of trade and therefore a violation of antitrust laws, just as preventing the Maloofs from selling their franchise to the highest bidder is a violation of those laws,” said Brian Robinson of Sonics Rising in a blog post Thursday.

Earlier this week, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson urged the Seattle group to “take the high road and be gracious” by taking a “step back” from their attempt to buy and relocate the Kings.

Hansen has not issued any further comment.

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