The right of first refusal on the Sacramento Kings sale is real, ladies and gents

Aaron Bruski and James Ham release language from two controlling documents in the Sacramento Kings partnership. Doubts about the right of first refusal for minority owners are all but erased.

Before the whales, there are bombs. From our friends James Ham and Aaron Bruski at Pro Basketball Talk:

NBC ProBasketballTalk has acquired a copy of the Kings' 1992 ownership agreement and an addendum to the original agreement from May of 2003. While a 1991 version of this document has also made media rounds over the last two weeks, we have verified through sources that the 1992 copy is the definitive agreement governing ownership rights and obligations of the Kings franchise and that the 2003 addendum specifically clarified any confusion regarding the Right of First Refusal, amongst other pending issues.

The story goes on to basically confirm the rumors that have been floating around: the right of first refusal for minority owners is pretty cleanly spelled out, but there are a couple of spots where the Maloofs could claim otherwise. The main controversy is centered around Section 5.3.A of the 1992 partnership agreement, which gives the Maloofs certain rights at 65 percent ownership. But those rights don't appear to extend to eliminating the right of first refusal. A judge may need to make that call.

So now, thanks to this story, instead of letting anonymous Seattle-based sources get away with calling the right of first refusal, reporters in both cities can look at the clauses in question and see that this is the very opposite of a non-issue. It is a huge issue. At the very least, it will tie this sale up in court beyond April 19. At best, it will either result in a minority owner ponying up for the club or in Chris Hansen decided that this sale is just too messy. We aren't guaranteed victory or anything like it. But this is good. Real good.

Seattle: you've been Maloofed.

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