Following days of speculation that the Sacramento Kings would be sold to investor Chris Hansen to bring an NBA team to Seattle, several new, unconfirmed reports say its a done deal.
Comcast Sportsnet NBA analyst Matt Steinmetz tells 710 ESPN’s Bob and Groz Show he’s learned from a “reliable source” that the Kings sale to the Hansen-Ballmer group is done, and that the Maloof family would have no ownership stake or decision-making ability within the franchise under the alleged deal.
“I can’t tell you that the papers have been signed. I can tell you that they have a handshake deal at the very least,” Steinmetz says.
The Maloofs will sell the Kings for a hefty $525 million,
Real GM Wiretap reports.
“This thing, if it isn’t signed will be signed this weekend and something will likely be announced early next week,” Steinmetz says.
Eric Rose, the spokesperson for the Maloof family, said Friday they have no comment on the new reports.
“Nothing has changed with our position that we will not comment on rumors or speculation about the Sacramento Kings franchise.”
Despite Steinmetz insistence a deal is imminent, another report surfaced Friday that the founder of 24 Hour Fitness was interested in buying the team and keeping it in Sacramento.
“Definitely, there’ve been conversations,” Mark Mastrov, who lost out in bidding for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, told CBSSports.com Friday. Mastrov said from his northern California office. “Definitely, there’s interest in acquiring the team and keeping it in Sacramento.”
The report says Mastrov met with the Maloofs recently, and made a formal offer, according to two league sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
AP sources said Wednesday Investor Chris Hansen had contacted the Maloof family about buying the Sacramento Kings, setting up the possibility of the NBA’s return to Seattle.
Hansen’s interest was confirmed by people with knowledge of the situation. They spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because no deal had been reached.
Spokespeople for Hansen and the NBA also refused to comment on the latest report.
Meantime, The Sacramento Bee reports Richard Benvenuti, a limited partner in the Kings, says he has not been informed of any sale.
The Kings’ future in Sacramento has been uncertain because the Maloofs and the city haven’t been able to come up with a long-term arena solution.
Rumors began circulating on Wednesday that a deal was close between the King’s ownership and a Seattle investment group including Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer, and members of the Nordstrom family.
Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday a possible sale could land the Kings in Seattle for the 2013-14 season, where the team would play at KeyArena as a temporary home until a new arena is constructed.
A dizzying day of conflicting reports Wednesday ultimately left unsure of whether a deal was actually in the works. Some of the Maloof’s past unpredictable dealings made many skeptical that the sale to Seattle was a done deal.
Hansen, a Seattle native and San Francisco-based investor, reached agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a $490 million arena near the city’s other stadiums, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. As part of the agreement, no construction will begin until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.
Hansen’s goal has been to return the SuperSonics to the Puget Sound after they were moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008.
While there have been plenty of conflicting reports throughout the week, Steinmetz defends his source and is confident the deal is imminent.
“My guy is familiar with what is going on and if he thought we were still at the point where the Maloofs could change their mind he just wouldn’t have said it was done. I just don’t believe he would have said that.”
Steinmetz says Hansen’s offer sparked an intense dispute within the family, but that “cooler heads” prevailed with the realization the Maloofs couldn’t afford to hold on to the franchise any longer given their financial struggles.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.