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Seattle group still wants to buy Kings

4/30/2013 - NBA Sacramento Kings

Seattle apparently is not giving up its fight to get the Sacramento Kings.

Despite Monday's rejection from a committee of NBA owners on a bid to relocate the team to Seattle, the leaders of a Seattle-based group say they are planning to move forward with the deal they have in place to purchase the Kings.

Chris Hansen, who is heading up the prospective Seattle ownership group, released a statement saying he still wants to buy the Kings from the Maloof family.

Hansen signed an agreement with the Maloofs in January to buy 65 percent of the team for $357 million and has a side deal to acquire 7 percent more for $15 million through a bankruptcy court.

"We remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through," Hansen said in the statement. "As you are all well aware, we have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings."

The Maloofs, who pressed fellow owners to approve their deal to sell the team to Hansen and move it to Seattle, have not commented on Monday's committee decision. Their intentions are unknown.

The NBA negotiated a backup deal for the Maloofs with a Sacramento-based group led by Vivek Ranadive, a wealthy software developer who is a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors.

Ranadive, whose group bid $341 million for control of the Kings, seems to be in position now to execute the purchase with the committee's recommendation that the Kings stay put.

"We hope to be in a position at that point where our ownership group gets approved," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson told The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday. "If I were (the Seattle group), I'd be fighting too."

But the Maloofs haven't stated their intentions and still have a contract with Hansen.

It is possible the Maloofs could reverse course and choose not to sell. It also is possible they could refuse to accept the deal the NBA put together with Ranadive, although they likely will be pressured by the league to do so.

City and state officials have made a new arena deal with Ranadive, not the Maloofs, further complicating matters. The timetable and several legal issues involving the arena's construction are not yet set.

The decision Monday from the NBA owners relocation committee is expected to be ratified by the full group of owners in two weeks. There was no vote taken on Hansen's offer to buy the team, which requires 75 percent approval.

All these outstanding issues are expected to be settled by owners by mid-May. At that time, Sacramento officials hope it is Ranadive who owns the Kings while the Maloofs and Hansen are out. Hansen is not ready to admit defeat, however, and hinted he plans to lobby individual owners to go against the small committee's recommendation. Hansen needs 16 of the 30 owners to vote his way.

"We plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor's Meeting in mid-May," Hansen said.