A formal relocation request has been filed to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, NBA Commissioner David Stern said today.
It is unclear when the relocation request was submitted. But the announcement was expected after the Maloofs, who own the team, agreed to sell the franchise last month to a group in Seattle.
Speaking in Minneapolis tonight before a Timberwolves game, Stern described the Seattle group as "very strong," the Associated Press reported. Stern said the league committees in charge of examining team sales and relocations are reviewing the deal, the AP reported.
A Kings spokesman declined comment to The Bee, as did a spokesman for the Seattle group.
The Maloof family, which owns the Kings, reached a deal last month to sell the franchise to a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer. That group had until March 1 to file for a Kings relocation.
Mayor Kevin Johnson is assembling a Sacramento-based group of investors to make a counteroffer for the team. He is expected to combine those interested owners with an arena deal in an attempt to convince the NBA to deny the Seattle plan.
"The mayor of Sacramento has advised that he will be back to us soon with a proposal from a group to buy the team in Sacramento and build a building in Sacramento with a substantial subsidy from the city of Sacramento," Stern told reporters today. "We're abiding events."
Stern added he doesn't think "it's a bidding war" between Seattle and Sacramento.
"One of the things that our boards is mandated to consider is the support for the team in the prior city," he said. "There are real issues for the board to consider about buildings and the likelihood they'll be built, about the support in both cities."