The Seattle SuperSonics could be returning to the NBA, as a Seattle group has purchased an interest in the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family.
Chris Hansen, who has been leading the charge to build a new Seattle arena and being back the NBA to the Emerald City, made the announcement on the arena website:
While we are not at liberty to discuss the terms of the transaction or our plans for the franchise given the confidential nature of the agreement and NBA regulations regarding public comments during a pending transaction, we would just like to extend our sincerest compliments and gratitude toward the Maloof family. Our negotiations with the family were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism and we hope to continue their legacy and be great stewards of this NBA franchise in the coming years and decades.
The move comes after years of effort by the Maloofs and the NBA to secure a new facility in Sacramento. Mayor Kevin Johnson had proposed a new downtown arena, but he could never pull off a funding plan that would satisfy both the Maloofs and local politicos.
While the move of the Kings is by no means a done deal, there’s certainly sentiment within NBA circles to allow a move. Commissioner David Stern was knee-deep in the discussions to keep the Kings in Sacramento in a new arena, and it can’t be said the league didn’t work with Johnson and crew to keep the team there with a financially sustainable plan. (Closed-circuit to Johnson and Kings fans: Sacramento isn’t actually a bad NBA market, but sometimes you need to lose a team to spur local action. Just ask the Sonics fans.)
However, the skids certainly are greased to bring the Sonics back; the name is available for local use, and the franchise can claim the exploits of Jack Sikma and Downtown Freddie Brown right off the bat, thanks to a deal made with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Image courtesy of city of Seattle.