Investor Chris Hansen and financier Thomas Tull are planning to make separate bids to buy the Hawks and move them to Seattle, according to Grantland’s Bill Simmons (Twitter link). Still, the existing owners of the Hawks, who’ve reportedly agreed to sell 100% of the team, want the club to stay in Atlanta, Simmons notes. Anyone who buys the team probably won’t have a chance to relocate it, given the NBA’s desire to stay in the Atlanta market, as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote amid last week’s reports. Other reports about the sale of the club have consistently indicated that it’s highly unlikely the team changes location.
Hansen teamed with Steve Ballmer to close a deal with the Maloof family to purchase the Kings in 2013, but the NBA rejected the bid and instead awarded the Kings to Vivek Ranadive and his investment team, who pledged to keep the franchise in Sacramento. Ballmer, who since then purchased the Clippers for a record $2 billion, was the primary financial backer of the Hansen-fronted bid, and the pair reportedly offered $650MM to buy the Bucks earlier this year, $100MM more than the team eventually sold for. Still, Hansen has forged ahead with plans to attract NBA and NHL teams to the Emerald City.
Tull is the founder and CEO of Legendary Entertainment, a film production company. He’s owns a minority share of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Another “name to watch” in regard to the Hawks sale is Jesse Itzler, according to Simmons (on Twitter). Itzler is a former rap artist who made his fortune with a private plane rental business.
A league source told Grantland’s Zach Lowe last week that the Hawks would likely go for between $750MM and $1 billion, though it appears the price is more likely to end up on the low end of that scale. Others who reportedly have interest in buying the team include former players Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber, former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and attorney Doug Davis