Paul Allen thinks his good buddy and former colleague Steve Ballmer would be a “great” NBA owner, but isn’t exactly gung-ho about bringing the NBA back to Seattle.
Ballmer is leading an investment group that is trying to buy the Sacramento Kings and bring them to the Emerald City. The Microsoft CEO and Chris Hansen reached an agreement with the Maloof family (current owners) in January to buy 65 percent of the Kings for a reported $341 million, but NBA owners have yet to approve the deal.
Allen, owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, met with the media prior to his team’s final game of the season Wednesday night.
Here are his comments on the Seattle/Sacramento issue, via BlazersEdge:
I think the league announced that there wasn’t going to be a decision at this owners meeting. If there was, I’d be back in New York talking to people, forming my opinion. I think it’s a tough call. While I supported the Sonics staying in Seattle when they ended up leaving, I think in general there’s some feeling that if there’s good fan support and there’s good political support sufficient to have a state of the art facility, that’s more than enough reason to keep a franchise in the same place.
Then you can get into all the parameters of who has made the best offer, who hasn’t made the best offer. It’s a very difficult thing. Steve Ballmer is a very good friend of mine and I think he would be a great owner. I reserve my final decision.
Reading those comments, you might imagine Allen would prefer not to see another team leave its city. After all, Allen was one of just two owners — the other was entrepreneur Mark Cuban — who voted against the deal that moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City back in 2008.
But I’m sure he wouldn’t mind having the NBA back in his hometown and cook up the Portland-Seattle I-5 rivalry again.
We’ll know soon where the Kings end up. Sacramento has an investment group that’s trying to block Seattle’s deal, which needs 23 out of 30 votes for approval by the NBA Board of Governors.
The final vote as originally planned for Friday, but that got pushed back. Now, it’s looking like we’ll know if the NBA is coming back to Seattle by early May.
Maloof told me he expects final vote to take place 1st week of May.
— Bryan May (@BMayNews10) April 18, 2013
The Seattle group has already put down a $30 million non-refundable deposit and has requested for the team to play at KeyArena for two seasons before moving into the the new SoDo arena in 2015. They also upped their bid by $25 million last week.
Previously on GeekWire: Bill Gates and Paul Allen reprise classic Microsoft photo, three decades later