I'll let the inimitable Adrian Wojnarowski tell it, since he broke the news:
The Maloofs are finalizing an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer led Seattle group, sources tell Yahoo! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013
The deal will sell the Kings for approximately $500 million, with the Seattle group seeking relocation to Key Arena for the 2013-'14 season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013
The Seattle group's plans, with support of the NBA, is to play two seasons in Key Arena before moving into a new Seattle arena, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013
There's more, but, y'know, just follow Woj.
This is pretty significant news for the Warriors. There's the good: presumably lots of abandoned fans looking for a new team should make Lacob and co. just a bit richer, which can't hurt the team. (And let's be fair to those fans: they aren't necessarily bandwagoners. Let's welcome them with open arms, unless they're jerks.) I'll assume that ownership will push to expand territorial rights northward, and I sincerely doubt there's going to be much pushback from the NBA ownership group — it's not like anybody is salivating at the opportunity to move their own franchise to Sacramento.
And then there's the bad: for the team, a two-hour bus ride just turned into a two-hour plane ride. Maybe not a terrible development, but I'm sure it was nice to at least have one land-based road location on the schedule twice a year. I'm sure there are also plenty of loyal Warriors fans living up highway 80 that enjoyed going to games at Arco.
Lastly, the ugly (depending on where you sit): $500 million!!!???!??!!! Holy crap! That makes Lacob and Guber look like bloody geniuses for nabbing GSW for $450M. Seattle is certainly a better market than Sacramento, so plenty of opportunity for revenue there, but damn. I really doubt the Maloofs deserve this.
So: Seattle Kings (as in Kings County)? Or a triumphant return by the Supersonics?
[Also, props to HairIsInTheBarn for fanshotting this rumor last night.]
In an effort to keep this Warriors-related, I failed to express my feelings toward Sacramento denizens properly. Totally bummed for you guys. While relocation is just part of the business, it has to feel awful to support a team for so long, so vigorously and so loyally, with little reciprocation from ownership or the league, only to be lied to about the future of the franchise and have it abruptly ripped away from you. It's not fair, and you certainly don't deserve it. GSoM, please put yourselves in the shoes of Sac fans and show them the proper respect.
The excellent team over at Sactown Royalty are circulating a petition to encourage David Stern to at least allow a Sacramento buyer the right to match the offer.
Basketball fans should not have to choose between Sacramento and Seattle. Both of these cities have proven their worth in the best of times and in the worst of times. It is time for David Stern and the NBA owners to right one wrong and prevent another. If the team is available for purchase, it is time for a Sacramento buyer to be granted an opportunity to match any offer the Maloofs extend to potential buyers. It is time for Seattle to be granted a new expansion team for the 2015-16 season. Seattle deserves a team after what happened to their Sonics. Sacramento deserves to keep the Kings in Sacramento after supporting the franchise for more than a quarter century and putting together a viable arena financing plan last year. Sacramento has one of the most passionate fan bases in NBA history, which is illustrated in the above documentary, Small Market, Big Heart. #HereWeStayNBA
Even if it's beneficial for the Warriors to have the Kings move out of this market, I think we can all agree that the city of Sacramento, Mayor KJ, and Kings fans deserve a chance to save their team. Sign the petition if you agree.