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Hansen’s goal has been to return the SuperSonics to the Puget Sound after they were moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008. Asked in September if he could envision a team being in Seattle for the 2013 season, Hansen was cautious about finding an option that quickly.
The Kings’ sale price would top the NBA-record $450 million the Golden State Warriors sold for in July 2010.
"While we are not at liberty to discuss the terms of the transaction or our plans for the franchise given the confidential nature of the agreement and NBA regulations regarding public comments during a pending transaction, we would just like to extend our sincerest compliments and gratitude toward the Maloof family," Hansen said in a statement. "Our negotiations with the family were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism and we hope to continue their legacy and be great stewards of this NBA franchise in the coming years and decades."
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn added, "While there is more work ahead, this is a major step toward bringing the Sonics home."
Brothers Joe, Gavin and George Maloof bought controlling interests in the franchise from Los Angeles-based developer Jim Thomas in 1999. The Maloofs, who have long waited for an upgrade to the team’s outdated arena, backed out of a tentative $391 million deal for a new downtown building with Sacramento last year, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate.
Johnson and the Kings broke off all negotiations in the summer, with the team’s owners saying the deal didn’t make financial sense for the franchise.
In 2011, the Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim before Johnson convinced the NBA to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena.
At one point, Johnson seemed so certain the team was gone he called the process a "slow death" and compared the city’s efforts to keep the Kings a "Hail Mary."
Johnson made a pitch to the NBA Board of Governors in April 2011, promising league owners the city would find a way to help finance a new arena to replace the team’s current outdated suburban facility. That pitch bought the Kings time, before the brokered deal between the city and the Maloofs fell apart last year.
AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson contributed to this story.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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