SEATTLE — Jimmer Fredette may soon call the Emerald City his home.
People with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday that investor Chris Hansen has contacted the Maloof family about buying the Sacramento Kings. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no deal has been reached.
Yahoo! Sports journalist Adrian Wojnarowksi broke the news earlier Wednesday via Twitter.
“The Maloofs are finalizing an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer led Seattle group, sources tell Yahoo! Sports,” Wojnarowski wrote.
Wojnarowski's Yahoo! Sports report reads that the Maloof brothers, current owners of the Sacramento Kings, are in the final stages of selling their majority share of the struggling NBA franchise to a Seattle-based group headed by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft big man Steve Ballmer.
Hansen 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 group is expected to pitch in $290 million in private investment toward the arena, along with helping to pay for transportation improvements in the area around the stadiums. The plans also call for the arena to be able to handle a future NHL franchise. The remaining $200 million in public financing would be paid back with rent money and admissions taxes from the arena, and if that money falls short, Hansen would be responsible for making up the rest. Other investors in the proposed arena include Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom department store family.
The Yahoo report says the group is seeking to relocate to the Key Arena for the 2013-14 NBA season. Also, the Associated Press is reporting the Kings could sell for more than $500 million.
Meanwhile, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has heavily advocated keeping the Kings in the Sacramento area, wrote on his twitter feed, “Bottom line Sacramento: it's not over .”
USA Today reported that one of its NBA sources has said the minority owners of the Kings franchise have not yet been notified. USA Today said that source spoke under a condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
However, a report on MyNorthwest.com said that 710 ESPN Seattle host Kevin Calabro has spoken with “a very reliable source” that told him the deal is done.
That same report on MyNorthwest.com reads that in order for the team to move into the Seattle area for the next NBA season, the sale would require approval from the NBA ownership committee. That committee is headed by Clay Bennett, the owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Bennett was the one who purchased the Seattle SuperSonics and moved the team to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 NBA season.
Calabro told MyNorthwest.com the committee requirement is a non-issue.
"The owners make the rules, they can set the rules,” he told the site. “March, to me, is not a hard and fast date for a relocation committee to meet. Clay Bennett could do that at any point he wanted to in the summer time and probably get this done.”
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.
The current arena for the Sacramento Kings, Power Balance Pavilion — formerly known as Arco Arena — has special significance for the Utah Jazz. Legendary jazzmen John Stockton and Karl Malone played their final game together there in 2003.
The Maloofs backed out of a tentative $391 million deal for a new downtown arena with Sacramento last year, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate. Johnson and the Kings broke off all negotiations in the summer.
In 2011, the Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim before Johnson convinced the NBA to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena. At one point, Johnson seemed so certain the team was gone he called the process a "slow death" and compared the city's efforts to keep the Kings a "Hail Mary."
Johnson made a desperate pitch to the NBA Board of Governors last April, promising league owners the city would find a way to help finance a new arena to replace the team's current outdated suburban facility. He also bought time by presenting more than $10 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses for this season.
The NBA's relocation committee, headed by Bennett, recommended that the league give the city a shot to follow through and handed down a March 1 deadline to come up with a plan to help finance an arena. Johnson delivered the agreement on March 1 to send the plan to the City Council.
On the night of March 6, 2012, the Sacramento City Council passed a deal — brokered by the NBA and with the blessing of Commissioner David Stern — for a new downtown arena. A sea of supporters packed the grounds for the vote, which seemingly saved the Kings from relocation.
Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof also attended the meeting. He thanked the council and said his family looked forward to working with the city to finalize plans that would keep the franchise in Sacramento for at least another 30 years.
The Maloofs broke off talks with Johnson and the city over the summer. The Kings have said the deal didn't make financial sense for the franchise.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @EarlOfHemsley. AP Sports Writers Tim Booth, Antonio Gonzalez and Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.
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