The Seattle SuperSonics could be rising from the ashes of the NBA’s dark history.
The team, which was picked up and moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, might be returning after a group led by Chris Hansen purchased a 65 percent controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings. The 65 percent stake represented the portion of the team owned by the Maloof family.
Sources told ESPN that the deal was finalized on Sunday night, with details being shared with NBA teams. The league would still need to approve the deal.
The deal would call for the Maloofs to receive a non-refundable $30 million deposit from the Seattle group by February 1. Hansen and his group are expected to apply to relocate the Kings in Seattle in time for next year’s season, marking the return of the Seattle SuperSonics.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson isn’t giving his team up without a fight, however. He received approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counter-offer from owners who would keep the team in Sacramento.
Stern talked to reporters in London this week, saying they are keeping the door open for Johnson to make a case to keep the team in Sacremento, USA Today reported.
“The Mayor of Sacramento has asked me, ‘Well, if this comes to pass because we’ve been reading it in the newspapers — and he knows that anything he reads in the newspapers is likely to be accurate — could I come in and address the board of governors or the relocation committee?’ ” Stern said. “And I said, ‘Always.’ … Communities have supported us, and many that haven’t, but Sacramento has been particularly supportive (and) are always welcome to present. The mayor has been in before (in April of 2011 during the Anaheim chapter). That’s it, other than the speculation of what’s going on.”
The news would come as great news to fans of the Seattle SuperSonics. The team had a large and dedicated fan base that was crushed by the 2008 move and made worse by the ascent of Oklahoma City in the years since leaving Seattle.