14 January 2013

Are the Sacramento Kings moving closer to a move to Seattle? UPDATE

The Sacramento Kings have become the vagabonds of the NBA. First, there were those rumors of the club moving to Anaheim almost two years ago. Then there was the reports of a tentative deal to build a new arena in Sacramento last February to keep the Kings in town. Months after that, we had the rumors that the team was on the verge to move to Virginia Beach. None of those things came to pass, further leaving the Kings and their future in limbo.

But then Yahoo Sports's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news last week that Sacramento's owners, the Maloof family, was about to sell the club to a prospective ownership group led by San Francisco hedge fund manager Chris Hansen (no, not that Chris Hansen) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Wojnarowski reported today that a call between the league and the league's relocation committee revaled the "deal points" on the sale.

So does this all make it a foregone conclusion that basketball will finally return to Seattle? Or will this deal fall apart like the prior deals all have?

Everybody knew from the get-go that the the city that made the most sense for the Kings to relocate to was Seattle. Seattle already has a proven fanbase that would support a team, was a desireable market and all it needed was a new arena. After all, the arena was why Clay Bennett moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City (and ironically, he is the chair of the relocation committee). And now it appears that a new arena will be built after plans to build a $500 million arena were approved by local officials back in October.

Hansen, and to a lesser extent Ballmer, has been the driving force to bring a team back to Seattle ever since it was reported eleven months ago that he was putting together the effort to build a new arena in the Charm City. Considering the financial weight that both bring, including the prior efforts by Ballmer to bring basketball back to Seattle, this has the feeling of a quality deal.

A quality deal, unless Gavin and Joe Maloof decide to switch directions at the last second, which they have shown to do whenever there seems to be a deal for the Kings and a future home. Plus, we should not count out the efforts of Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who has been working tirelessly to try to get a new arena built to keep the Kings, only to be met by opposition each time. But with the reports that the team is preparing to file for relocation to Seattle by the March 1st deadline (and spend two seasons in the KeyArena as an interim venue), it looks like Johnson is running very low on time.

Honestly, it is a shame that the Kings appear to be on the way out after almost thirty years in the California capital. After all, Arco Arena was one of the toughest places to play thanks to a great Kings squad and a raucous fanbase.

But it is about time that Seattle had a basketball club again and it is about time that the Sonics return to the league. And the team will be able to get back their logo and history, similar to when the Cleveland Browns rejoined the NFL back in 1999.

UPDATE: The NBA has announced that the deal is official. And rumor has it that Phil Jackson may be the team president. Cool beans.

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