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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is helping the NBA return to Seattle.(Microsoft photo)

Seattle basketball fans have reason to celebrate this morning: The NBA is coming back to the Emerald City.

We’ve been hearing several reports in the past few weeks and most recently Sunday night, but now the NBA, Chris Hansen, and the Maloof family have all officially confirmed the sale of the Sacramento Kings.

The Seattle investment group making the purchase, which has been valued at $525 million for 65 percent of the Kings franchise, is led by investor Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Here’s a note from Chris Hansen on the official SonicsArena website:

“We are happy to announce that we have entered into a binding agreement with the Maloofs to purchase a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise. The sale is obviously subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors, and we look forward to working with the League in the coming months to consummate the transaction.

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. 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.”

Here’s a statement from the Maloof family:

“We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members. We would also like thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise.”

Here’s the statement from the NBA:

“The NBA received an executed Purchase and Sale Agreement for the transfer of a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family to an investor group led by Christopher Hansen. The proposed transaction is subject to the approval of the NBA Board of Governors and has been referred to the Board’s committee process for review.”

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn also released a statement:

“This is an exciting day for our city and for Sonics fans everywhere. I congratulate Chris Hansen and his investment team. While there is more work ahead, this is a major step toward bringing the Sonics home.”

The NBA Board of Directors still needs to approve the agreement in April — Yahoo calls it a “formality” — and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is making a last-second attempt to put together an ownership group to keep the Kings in his city.

But this certainly looks good for hoops fans in Emerald City. The Seattle investors plan to have the team play two seasons at Key Arena beginning next October and then relocating to the proposed new $490 million arena in the SoDo district before the 2015-16 season. Plans to build arena were approved by the City Council and the King County Council last October.

Some say that the sheer amount of money Hansen and Ballmer are paying improves the chance of an NHL team also coming to Seattle. Hansen and Co. would receive $145 million dollars in public financing if only an NBA team plays in the new arena; he gets $200 million if both an NBA and NHL team play there.

Reports came out in June that Ballmer was part of the investment group led by Hansen. It’s not surprising: Ballmer was a regular at Sonics games before the team departed for Oklahoma City in 2008 and also was part of another investment group that tried to keep the team here. Seattle has been without a team since then.

The group also includes Erik and Peter Nordstrom, part of a family that owned the Seahawks from 1976-1988.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also has NBA ties, as he’s owned the Portland Trail Blazers since 1988. Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks and is a minority owner of the Seattle Sounders. Another tech company — Nintendo of America — owns the Seattle Mariners.

If the Kings indeed do move to Seattle for the 2013-14 season, they’ll keep the “SuperSonics” nickname. Reports are out that legendary coach Phil Jackson will sit in the Sonics’ front office and that other big names could run the franchise in Seattle.

Here’s a good roundup of what this means for everyone affected by the deal.

Previously on GeekWire: Prediction guru Nate Silver: The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl

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