HoopsHype Steve Ballmer rumors

April 11, 2014 Updates

Don’t worry, you won’t have to cheer for the Seattle Bucks. As I tweeted last weekend, the Seattle guys (Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen) aren’t getting the team — even though they were willing to go higher than anyone else, they dropped out because Herb Kohl (the longtime Bucks owner and a fearless champion of mediocre basketball) wouldn’t sell them the franchise unless they agreed to keep it in Milwaukee. The guys who thought they had it as recently as two days ago? Hedge-fund billionaires Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, who slid under the radar this entire time and thought they landed the Bucks with an offer in the $550 million range (slightly more than Vivek Ranadivé paid for the equally unappealing Kings). As recently as Wednesday, Lasry and Edens were expecting the NBA to vote on their bid at next week’s Board of Governors meeting. Grantland

So … what happened? Apparently there’s been a late flurry of offers from at least two other parties — not the Seattle guys — and now, incredibly, the price might be climbing and/or Kohl might be wavering to see if he should play this out longer. I thought I had this story nailed two days ago; now, I’m not sure. Will Lasry and Edens land the Bucks? Will someone else swoop in? What promises will be made to Adam Silver, who has demanded a new arena in Milwaukee by 2017 at the latest … or else? And can the Bucks and Kings really go for a combined $1.1 billion or more???? Good Lord! My money is still on Lasry and Edens, but I can’t believe this process is still dragging along. You know, kind of like the Bucks. Grantland

April 2, 2014 Updates
September 12, 2013 Updates

Given the fact there aren’t any teams currently for sale, the bigger question is whether the 30-team NBA is going to expand anytime soon. “That’s up to commissioner Silver,” Stern said. And Silver replied: “I would never say it’s never going to happen. There’s nothing in the works at the moment. We were very clear when we were going through the issue with Steve Ballmer and Mr. Hansen that expansion was not in the cards right now.” Seattle Times

August 24, 2013 Updates
June 13, 2013 Updates

The story of the NBA returning to Seattle won't go away, and on Wednesday there were indications that progress is being made on making it happen. Tim Montemayor of KGO 810 AM in San Francisco reported the developments via Twitter. "Several NBA sources in the know tell me there have been productive talks on expansion in Seattle," Montemayor tweeted. “As the league preps for a new TV deal they have discussed a timetable but have not settled the issue. I am also told the H&B (Hansen and Ballmer) group are aware of a working plan to return the NBA to Seattle, and were told as much and acknowledged their preference to have a new franchise at the end of the NBA Kings saga." ESPN.com

Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, the principal investors in the prospective Seattle basketball ownership group, have reportedly started “productive” talks with the NBA for securing an expansion team. Expansion seems to be the preferred option for Hansen’s group, which lost its bid last month to acquire the Sacramento Kings and relocate them to Seattle. There appears to be a “working plan” to bring the NBA back to Seattle, according to Tim Montemayor of KGO Radio in San Francisco. “Several NBA sources in the know tell me there have been productive talks on expansion in Seattle,” Montemayor wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “As the league preps for a new TV deal they have discussed a timetable but have not settled the issue. Seattle Post-Intelligencer

May 16, 2013 Updates

Shawn Kemp said he thought the NBA used the weight of the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to rally investors in Sacramento. "It seems like we were used a little bit as leverage here in Seattle," Kemp said, "and it feels that way, too." Seattle Times

May 15, 2013 Updates
May 14, 2013 Updates

George Maloof, one of the members of the family that owns the Sacramento Kings, said again today their desire is to sell the team to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. Maloof is in Dallas in advance of the NBA Board of Governors meetings tomorrow, and in a brief interview as he walked through the lobby, reiterated the family’s long stance about selling the team to the Seattle group. “We have a binding agreement,” he said. “That’s our commitment, to Chris and Steve. We want to see it through.” Seattle Times

But now that Seattle’s advances have been rebuffed by the NBA, sources say it’s Ballmer that has taken on a larger role in decision-making for the Seattle ownership group. The polar opposite of the soft-spoken hedge fund manager in Hansen – Ballmer is known for being loud and outrageous. Vanity Fair ran a seething piece (Microsoft’s Lost Decade) last August detailing a violent incident and more. NBCSports.com

Now that Ballmer has taken on a larger role with the Seattle group, league sources tell PBT that the same bravado he has employed with Microsoft is turning heads at the league office – and not in a good way. It’s no secret that Ballmer is a handful — but a well-connected and filthy rich handful that the NBA would love to have in its stable. At least that was the case. According to league sources speaking to PBT under condition of anonymity, the recent power plays made by Seattle and the Maloof family have “started to weigh on the NBA to the point where any Ballmer-led proposal now or in the future could fall on deaf ears if he doesn’t change course.” NBCSports.com

When asked to clarify, the source said that should the Seattle group continue to pursue a scorched earth policy with the Sacramento marketplace, they would jeopardize the city’s ability to secure an NBA team down the road should an opportunity present itself. When asked how Seattle got to that point, several sources with knowledge of the situation have told PBT that once they recognized the Sacramento bid was likely to meet league requirements, and ultimately secure the Kings, then decision-making for Seattle’s strategy and PR effort slowly shifted into Ballmer’s hands. That strategy has been at odds with the due process the NBA has been following, and recently it has been at odds with the NBA itself. NBCSports.com

May 12, 2013 Updates

The Hansen-Ballmer agreement to purchase 65 percent of the team from the Maloofs would now be based on a valuation of $550 million, an increase of $25 million. Now, Hansen has sweetened the pot again -- increasing the franchise valuation by another $75 million as part of a backup plan to buy 20 percent of the team from the Maloofs if owners formally reject relocation on Wednesday in Dallas. CBSSports.com

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