Kings sale: Talking Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer off of the Maloofian ledge

Are Hansen and Ballmer seeing the light of the Maloofian sun?

Late Tuesday, Tim Montemayor (formerly of KHTK, now with KGO Radio in the Bay Area) tweeted out some more info from his sources. And by "some more" I mean "a lot of." Take it all with appropriate grains of salt given that it's all anonymously sourced. Monty has been reporting on this in the past few weeks, and hasn't been wrong yet. (He's the one who reported that Chris Hansen refused future expansion. That hasn't been firmly confirmed or knocked down, but I have been skeptical of that report of late given the NBA's comments on expansion.)

Akis was kind enough to turn the tweet river into paragraphs. Anything in brackets is added for clarification. Give Monty a follow (@TheMontyShow). Enjoy.

This conversation started yesterday and continued into this evening after a contact asked me about expansion in Seattle. As I have previously reported, I was again told that Hansen-Ballmer have been aware of [expansion for] 2014-15 season but have not been willing to engage in that conversation while the Kings were still "in play". They have been aware of expansion for two months, but in that time they have fought hard "to keep Sac [bid] alive".

However, the tone and subject of NBA conversation changed this week after Hansen-Ballmer were plainly told their relationship with the Maloofs had damaged any good will they had built up with other owners in the league, who have made it clear to Hansen-Ballmer that the Maloofs are not good partners for them and that the "side deal" hurt them.

Hansen-Ballmer were told Monday that their chances of any NBA ownership was fading fast because they continue to be aggressive and take steps that go directly against NBA protocol in this situation. Late Monday, Hansen-Ballmer began a conversation that was "concessionary" in nature and have "seemingly woken up to the reality of the situation" that the Maloofs have made them look "foolish" and the appearance that the Maloofs are "directing the Hansen-Ballmer group's direction". They were told [by Maloofs?] in no uncertain terms that it was now or never.

It was conveyed to me that Hansen-Ballmer have told the Maloofs that they needed to take a few days to reconsider their position ahead of Wednesday and that discussions surrounding expansion have now become a two-way communication with Hansen-Ballmer shifting their tone to returning the NBA to Seattle by any available means. The Maloofs responded by reaching out to media member who they had previously ignored.

My sources tell me that Hansen-Ballmer took the day today [Tuesday] to reach out and talk to NBA people they trust who made it clear they were rapidly losing the chance to own an NBA team. They were told expansion is a real option. They were told the Maloofs appear to be manipulating them. Hansen-Ballmer were told that the NBA was "shocked" at how the situation played out and disappointed that it appeared Hansen-Ballmer were "tone deaf to the reality of the situation". "How could they not know money was not the leading factor or consideration in any committee vote?"

The Maloofs made such a poor showing at the NY presentation that the Seattle Hansen-Ballmer group were warned in committee and in private that continuing relationship with "that family" would substantially damage their efforts. They did not heed that warning until this week. My sources tell me the NBA has been talking about how to "shake Chris Hansen out of this trance" for a month and that the Monday conference call focused heavily on how to salvage Hansen-Ballmer as an ownership group. While I do not know who did what specifically, it was made clear to me that several NBA owners and executives put a lot of effort into opening a new dialogue with Hansen and it worked.

A couple other notes:

Anyone saying Hansen would own the Kings in Sac and build an arena there is "in outer space". Hansen-Ballmer is solely focused on returning the NBA to Seattle.

Also, the Maloofs were so bad around the NY presentations that it not only made the vote a formality but served to enhance what KJ presented. I was told then and now that Seattle was almost dead on arrival in NYC because of the Maloofs.

I do not know what the next vote will bring as my sources say there is a lot of conversations to be had before any vote or decision, but it is likely the next vote will bring some clarity and a path forward.

That's all I have on the situation. The NBA is working hard to cap source leaks and my sources have said they need to be very careful. The NBA has said any leak of information will be met harshly."

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