DALLAS — The Kings are staying in Sacramento, and Seattle will have to wait for another NBA franchise.
The NBA Board of Governors voted 22-8 to reject the Kings’ proposed move to Seattle, following the recommendation of their relocation committee and thwarting an aggressive bid to move the franchise by investor Chris Hansen.
The deal Hansen struck with the Maloof family would have allowed him to buy a 65 percent controlling interest at a total franchise valuation of $625 million. Twice Hansen boosted the offer after the NBA showed an unwillingness to relocate.
Now the Maloofs will try to complete a deal at $525 million — still topping the NBA record of $450 million — with a group put together by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former All-Star guard, and fronted by TIBCO software chairman Vivek Ranadive. The plan includes a new downtown arena.
“The committee decided — didn’t have any preconceived notions — but looking at both evenly they said that the edge went to the incumbent, so that’s the way it came out,” NBA commissioner David Stern said.
The vote ended an emotional saga that has dragged on for nearly three years. Hansen hoped to obtain the franchise and rename it the SuperSonics, who were moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and renamed the Thunder after 41 years in Seattle.
Stern praised Hansen’s proposal and said the NBA might consider expansion once a new TV deal is in place, but said “we don’t have anything concrete.”
“Our day will come, and when it does, it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle,” Hansen said.
Kings co-owner George Maloof struck a conciliatory note after the vote, saying, “We respect the decision that was made.”
“We’ll work with anybody,” Maloof said. “(Ranadive is) a good guy.”
Still, Maloof said “there’s no pressure on us” to sell the team.
The Maloofs had said they would seek league approval for an alternative deal with the Hansen group if the NBA owners rejected the relocation — and with it the sale of the team. Alternatively, the Maloofs proposed to sell 20 percent of the team to Hansen.
Stern said that deal was not signed, however.
“The big winner here was Sacramento,” Stern said.
As for the ownership question that has kept the Kings in limbo for years, Stern wants it settled now. Stern announced that he hoped to have a deal in place in 48 hours.
Johnson said the Ranadive group has put the entire $341 million in an escrow account, as the NBA had requested.
“And now we think that because the Maloofs have overall been very good for Sacramento and the Kings and the NBA, that they will be motivated to do something fast so that the franchise can get cracking,” Stern said.
Ranadive said he “fully expects we’ll be able to work with (the Maloofs)” and that “we believe we can get this done very quickly.” He said his lawyers and the Maloof family’s attorneys have already been talking.
It’s the second time since 2011 that the Maloof brothers have made plans that would have ended in relocation for the Kings. The first target was Anaheim, Calif., but Johnson persuaded the NBA to give the city another chance to finance a new arena.
Johnson delivered on a promise for a plan for a new downtown arena with help from Stern, but the Maloofs backed out, saying it didn’t make financial sense.
The Maloofs had another surprise when they announced a deal in January with Hansen’s group, which includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and members of the Nordstrom department store family.
Johnson fought back again, this time lining up an ownership group led Ranadive and getting the Sacramento City Council to approve a nonbinding financing plan for a $447 million arena with a $258 million public subsidy.
The potential Sacramento ownership group also includes 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, former Facebook senior executive Chris Kelly and the Jacobs family that owns communications giant Qualcomm.
Seattle has been without an NBA franchise since the SuperSonics moved. Led by star Kevin Durant, the Thunder have made the playoffs four straight seasons, reached the Western Conference finals in 2011 and lost to Miami in last year’s NBA finals.
Hansen spent nearly two years working to get an arena plan approved by the city and county and spent more than $65 million buying land in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood where the arena would be built. Hansen has a five-year memorandum of understanding with the city and county on the arena plan.
Stern took pains to praise the men whose proposal the board had just rejected. “Chris Hansen did everything he could do plus more,” Stern said. “Steve Ballmer couldn’t have been more supportive.”
Of Seattle’s future NBA prospects, Stern said there was nothing to announce. “We look forward to continuing a dialogue of some type with the citizens and the (Seattle) investors,” he said.
The Sacramento Bee and The Associated Press contributed to this report.