‘Basketball is alive' says former Sonics Lenny Wilkens

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SEATTLE - After confirmation that the Sacramento Kings were sold to a Seattle investor group, a former legendary Seattle Sonics coach and player was happy to hear a team would be coming back to the city.  

 

On Monday morning, the NBA confirmed that it had received an executive purchase and sale agreement for the Sacramento Kings that would give ownership to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen from the owners, the Maloof family.

 

As part of the deal, Hansen, along with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom family, will buy a 65 percent majority stake in the Kings for $525 million.  The Kings would relocate to Seattle after this season.

 

The sale and relocation still has to be approved by the NBA’s owners, the board of governors, which isn’t scheduled to meet until mid-April.

 

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Dubois spoke with legendary Sonics coach and player Lenny Wilkens after he learned about the finalized deal that could bring his team back to Seattle.

 

“Certainly,I am excited,” said Wilkens. “Basketball is alive in this area, and I’m very happy about it, and I hope it happens quickly,” Wilkens said.

 

Willkens has had conversations with investor Chris Hanson over the past several months, and he was confident a deal to get a team would eventually come together, but he didn’t think it would happen this fast.

 

“I couldn’t see why the NBA relocation committee would turn it down. Here’s a viable group that certainly [can] afford that this becomes a productive entity,” Wilkens said.

 

One of Wilkens’ former players is Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has vowed to fight the sale and present NBA owners with a different ownership group to keep the team in Sacramento.

 

“I think for us, It would be great. I can’t speak for Jack (Sikma) and Fred (Downtown Freddy Brown). But I think I know their thoughts. I think they’d be very happy about it," said Wilkens. 

 

Wilkens told KIRO 7 that he was interested in having a front-office job.

 

Before the Sonics were relocated to Oklahoma City after the 2007-2008 season, the team played at the Key Arena.

 

The facility will be where the team would play for two seasons until a new arena will be built in SoDo.

 

About $7 million of renovation will have to take place first, which is the agreement investor Chris Hansen has with the city of Seattle and King County.