Chris Hansen still committed 'to bringing Sonics back'
Leader of Seattle ownership group makes first public comments on KING-TV and KJR-AM.
Seattle Times staff reporter
In his first public comments since the NBA voted not to allow the Sacramento Kings to relocate, Chris Hansen says he remains committed "to bringing the Sonics back" to Seattle.
Hansen made that comment in an interview with KING-TV Tuesday. Hansen also told KJR-AM that when he led an effort to buy the Kings he thought the team was destined to relocate and that it was just a matter of when and where.
Hansen told the radio station that had he known the city of Sacramento would battle the way it did to keep the Kings, "we probably would have approached this differently, if at all. We really thought that the Kings were going to be leaving Sacramento, that it was really a question of where. I think the NBA thought that was the case too. ... There was a feeling this wasn't going to work in Sacramento. There wasn't a viable ownership group that had stepped up to keep the team in Sacramento."
Hansen said that while he will continue efforts to bring the NBA back, that his group "is not going to be predatory going after other cities ... we will be extra careful the next time to assure that it is a team that the NBA wants to move and that it is truly not working in that community."
Hansen also told KING-5 that the NBA has given no promises to the Seattle group of an expansion team. But he said the effort of the Seattle group "made a great impression and I do think the NBA will be coming back to Seattle. It's just a matter of time."
Hansen said he did not consider filing any lawsuits related to the saga because "I am not a litigious person" and that it also won't help bring the NBA back to Seattle.
Hansen also said there is a chance that his group may be able to recoup a $30 million deposit it made to the Maloof family, which owned the Kings, though he offered no details. "We are in the process of trying to figure that out," he told KING-5.
He also told the TV station that he is unlikely to retain a 7 percent share of the team he bought in bankruptcy court, saying he "wouldn't do anything that would be seen as divisive in Sacramento" and will "look to a solution" where the new ownership group will end up with that stake.
While ultimately unsuccessful, Hansen said he did not consider the effort as wasted time because it helped lay the groundwork for bringing the NBA back, including assembling an arena deal and also working out a plan to use KeyArena, if necessary.
"The benefit of all that hard work will pay off, so I don't view that as wasted time," he said.
Hansen also said his effort remains focused on securing an NBA team before building the arena and then possibly luring an NHL team as a second tenant.
Hansen made his comments on the same day that the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a group led by TIBCO Software chairman Vivek Ranadive. The league said in a statement that the "transaction is expected to close shortly."
After owners blocked the relocation of the franchise to Seattle earlier this month, the Maloof family reached an agreement to sell a 65 percent controlling interest in the Kings to Ranadive's group at a total franchise valuation of $535 million. Ranadive, who will have to sell his minority stake in the Golden State Warriors, becomes the NBA's first Indian-born majority owner.
Lynn Thompson and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.