Kings almost certain to stay in Sacramento after vote

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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In a move that all but guarantees the Sacramento Kings are staying put, a committee of NBA owners voted unanimously Monday to block the team’s pending sale and relocation to Seattle.

The NBA announced that its combined relocation and finance advisory committee, composed of 12 owners, voted unanimously to reject the Maloof family’s proposed sale of the Kings to hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who planned to move the team to Seattle.

The Maloof family had no immediate comment. One of the Sacramento bidders, San Francisco tech executive Andy Miller, said on Twitter, “Here we stay! Kings’ and Sacramento’s future is very bright.”

A Hansen spokesman had no immediate comment.

Ballmer told a Seattle radio talk show on Monday he is “horribly, horribly disappointed.” Ballmer said he and his group are continuing their communications with NBA Commissioner David Stern and plan to put their heads together to see if there is a reasonable next step.

“What Sacramento did was beat the odds,” said Michael McCann, legal analyst at NBA TV.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, who spearheaded the effort to derail the Seattle move, took to Twitter to announce: “That’s what I’m talking about SACRAMENTO!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!”

The full Board of Governors isn’t expected to vote on the Kings until around May 13, but the committee’s recommendation will surely be influential. The Hansen-Ballmer group needs 23 of 30 owners’ votes to get control of the team.

Monday’s vote followed a two-hour conference call by committee members — and came after months of unprecedented arm wrestling over the lowly Kings. The Maloofs agreed in January to sell their 65 percent share to the Hansen group for $341 million. Hansen upped the offer to $357 million earlier this month.

A group of eight investors recruited by Mayor Kevin Johnson and led by Palo Alto, Calif., software executive Vivek Ranadive submitted a proposal to keep the team in town. The deal matched Hansen’s original offer of $341 million, according to a letter the Maloofs sent earlier this month to the NBA.

Both cities pitched multimillion-dollar subsidies for new arenas, with the Sacramento City Council tentatively approving a $258 million subsidy, to be paid mainly by borrowing against future parking revenues. Seattle, which lost its SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008, offered the larger and richer market. But Sacramento touted its long record of loyalty to the NBA and its status as a one-team town.

McCann said it was remarkable for the NBA to reject the proposal from Hansen and Ballmer, a pair of owners “that had no question marks.” The last time the NBA killed a sale and relocation, involving the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1994, the potential buyers in New Orleans had shaky financing.

With the Kings, the process dragged out weeks longer than usual, and McCann said that was no coincidence. “They wanted the unanimous vote,” he said

Hinrich sits

The Chicago Bulls were without point guard Kirk Hinrich on Monday night against Brooklyn because of a bruised left calf. Game 4 star Nate Robinson started in Chicago’s 110-91 loss.

Hinrich was hurt during Saturday’s 142-134 triple-overtime victory, playing through the injury to finish with 18 points and a playoff career-high 14 assists in 60 minutes.

But he was wearing a walking boot Monday, walking with a noticeable limp.

“We’ve dealt with injuries all year,” Hinrich said at the Bulls’ morning shootaround. “Nate’s been huge for us all year. He’s had those type of games. He’s been huge for us. We’re confident in our guys.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t commit to a starter until shortly before the game. With Derrick Rose still not back after tearing his ACL in last year’s playoff opener, the only other true point guard option was Marquis Teague, who has made just one appearance in the series.

Robinson rallied the Bulls from a 14-point deficit late in the fourth quarter Saturday, scoring 29 of his 34 points after the third quarter as Chicago took a 3-1 lead in the series.

Baby drama

Center Johan Petro rejoined the Atlanta Hawks for Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers after witnessing the birth of his first child and played 22 minutes, scored four points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Jacob Petro was born at about 2 p.m. Monday at a hospital in the Miami area. After being assured that his child and wife were doing fine, the new father hopped on a private plane sent by the Hawks’ owners. He arrived at Philips Arena about two hours before tip-off and was in the starting lineup to help Atlanta score a 102-91 victory to tie the first-round series at two games apiece.

Petro says it’s been a “crazy” few days, but he’s glad things worked out like they did. The 7-footer was able to travel home after Game 3 and get back in time for the next contest.

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