League sources told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday that the Maloof family is finalizing a deal that would sell the Sacramento Kings to a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer that would try to move the team to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.
According to the report, the Hansen-Ballmer group would pay $500 million for the team with the intent of playing the next two seasons at Key Arena in Seattle before moving into a new arena in the Emerald City.
There is no signed agreement yet, according to the sources, but one of them told Wojnarowski that the process is at “first and goal at the 1.”
Once the sale is finalized, the group will have until March to file for relocation to Seattle. NBA commissioner David Stern has been a huge supporter of the Hansen-Ballmer group, and league officials will reportedly work closely to help the franchise complete the move north if the sale goes through.
The new owners plan to change the Kings’ name and logo back to that of Seattle’s first NBA team, the SuperSonics, who moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.
The Sonics’ name, logo and history were left behind when owner Clay Bennett moved the team that is now the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The one concern is the Maloofs’ history of changing directions late in negotiations. Previously, the family backed out of a deal with leaders in Sacramento to help financial a new arena in the California capital.
The Sonics played in Seattle for 41 seasons, beginning as an expansion franchise in 1967-68.
The franchise’s only title came in 1979, when Seattle downed the Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals.
The team also made the wrong sort of playoff history in 1994, when the Sonics lost in the first round to the Denver Nuggets to become the first No. 1 seed to lose a series to a No. 8 seed.
Gary Payton is the franchise leader in games played (999), points (18,207), assists (7,384) and steals (2,107). The Sonics’ all-time rebounding leader is Jack Sikma (7,729) and Shawn Kemp blocked the most shots (959).
The winningest coach in Sonics history is Lenny Wilkens, who went 478-402 over parts of 11 seasons in two separate stints (1969-70 through 1971-72 and 1977-78 through 1983-84). George Karl is second on the list with a 384-150 mark from 1991-92 through 1997-98. Karl’s 40 playoff wins is the franchise record, ahead of Wilkens’ 37. The team made the playoffs in 22 of their 41 seasons in the Pacific Northwest.
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