After Sacramento reportedly informs NBA it will match the Seattle group's original offer, Chris Hansen announced he had reached an agreement with the Maloofs to increase their deal by $25 million.
NBA commissioner David Stern has said throughout the Seattle/Sacramento battle for the Kings that he did not anticipate a bidding war erupting.
A bidding war, though, is exactly what came to fruition Friday night.
Hours after it had been reported that Sacramento had matched Seattle’s offer for the Kings, Chris Hansen announced that Seattle had increased its offer to increase the total value of the Kings by $25 million, to a total of $550 million.
In a message on sonicsarena.com late Friday night, Hansen wrote: “We would like to announce that we have reached an agreement with the Maloofs to raise the price we are offering to purchase the controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise by $25 million — from an enterprise value of $525 million to an enterprise value of $550 million.
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“While we already have a binding purchase agreement to purchase the controlling interest in the team, the Seattle Ownership Group has elected to voluntarily raise its purchase price as a sign of our commitment to bring basketball back to our City and our high degree of confidence in our Arena plan, our financing plan, the economic strength of the Seattle market, individual and corporate support for the team and, most importantly, the future of the NBA.”
Hansen’s group reached an agreement in January to buy 65 percent of the Kings for $341 million (for a total valuation of $525 million), plus a nonrefundable $30 million deposit (so that assumes Friday’s increase was roughly $17 million).
The controlling owners, the Maloof family, earlier in the week set a deadline of 5 p.m. on Friday to receive a written, binding offer from the Sacramento group. Several media outlets reported on Friday that the Sacramento group had informed the NBA that it would match the Seattle offer, including the $30 million deposit, which had been viewed as a potential complication.
Sacramento apparently did not meet the Maloofs’ deadline for a written, binding offer. But several media outlets reported that the NBA was not holding the Sacramento group to that deadline, and there was a report from NBA.com that the Maloofs had agreed to extend it through the weekend.
The NBA’s Board of Governors will meet in New York on Thursday and Friday and are expected to vote on whether to approve the Seattle offer for the Kings. If the vote is turned down — it needs approval by 23 of 30 owners — then the team could be sold to the Sacramento group, allowing the Kings to stay.
The Bee had reported earlier Friday that the Maloofs would “embrace” an offer that would keep the team in Sacramento as long as it matched the Seattle bid and the Seattle offer was turned down by the NBA.
Stern said at the All-Star Game in February that he did not envision the battle for the Kings turning into a bidding war, saying then that “I don’t believe it’s going to come down to economics because it’s not about, ‘OK, I say 525. All right. I say 526.’ “
And at meetings last week in New York, when each city made a presentation to a committee of eight NBA owners, Stern said that Sacramento’s offer would not be an “issue.” Some, though, have speculated that, while Stern may not want a bidding war, other NBA owners would be more than happy to let one develop because it would increase the value of every franchise. The highest amount paid for a team was a reported $450 million for the Golden State Warriors in 2010.
Michael McCann, an on-air legal analyst for NBA-TV, said earlier in the week that if reports of a possible rift between owners and Stern on this issue are true that it could be because “NBA owners may place a higher value on maximizing value.”
With the issue appearing to grow more complicated by the minute, several league sources also said that the NBA could consider expansion more seriously at its meetings next week in New York. Stern has repeatedly said expansion is not on the table right now, reiterating that statement in New York last week.
But with each group willing to pay a record price for a team and possessing arena plans that have received at least tentative government approval, sources say the NBA might consider expansion as a way out.