Chris Hansen

Latest On Seattle’s Quest For An NBA Franchise

For much of the past half decade, a group of investors led by Chris Hansen has sought ways to build an arena in Seattle that could house an NBA team and possibly an NHL club as well. The group, however, has faced resistance, most recently from a city council that refused to grant it access to a city street necessary for construction in the Sodo District.

On Thursday, an Associated Press report broke news that Hansen’s group would also be willing to help rebuild and modernize KeyArena as a venue for concerts, after the construction on the new Sodo facility had been completed, that is.

From 1967 until 2008, KeyArena was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics and the building currently remains on a 74-acre plot in downtown as a multipurpose facility and the home of Seattle’s WNBA club.

Despite the fact that Hansen’s group is aggressively pursuing a franchise – they’ve already pivoted from seeking to use public money to privately financing the project – their plans of building a facility near those of the Seahawks’ and Mariners’ facilities would require the purchase of a portion of Occidental Avenue South.

As recently as May of 2016, however, Seattle city council voted against such an acquisition 5-4, some councilmembers steadfast against the idea of vacating a prominent, industrial city street in the name of supposed “gentrification.”

If the proposal to rebuild KeyArena was intended as an olive branch for city officials, it wasn’t taken as such. Almost immediately after issuing their proposal, Seattle’s Office of Economic Development shot them down, referring to a formal request for proposals that was held earlier in 2017.

If Hansen’s group wanted to modernize KeyArena, the office suggested, they should have formally proposed their plans when the city was requesting them. As things stand, a Los Angeles-based company already has a finalized draft to renovate KeyArena for $564MM with the intention of housing NBA and NHL teams there.

What does this mean for hoops fans hoping for another basketball franchise in the Pacific Northwest? Not much, directly at least.

In April of 2016, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Baker that a “shovel ready arena” wouldn’t hasten the league’s meticulous expansion process. More recently though, Silver told C.J. McCollum of the Players Tribune (yes, that one) in July 2017 that the league would inevitably start looking at growth of franchises.

Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at,” Silver told him.

Whether that hypothetical franchise suits up in a renovated version of KeyArena or somewhere in the middle of an industrial district slowly enveloped by sports facilities remains to be seen.

And-Ones: Doncic, Seattle, Jeff Van Gundy, Draft

Seventeen-year-old Real Madrid star Luka Doncic has a new agent, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that Doncic has signed on with BDA Sports, and will be represented by Bill Duffy. Doncic won’t be eligible for the 2017 draft, but the investment by BDA has a chance to pay off in a big way down the road — the Slovenian guard is considered one of the best European prospects in years, and is currently viewed as the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the basketball world:

  • Chris Hansen‘s efforts to build a new NBA- and NHL-ready arena in Seattle have been going on for more than five years, but the investor is still confident that it will eventually happen, according to an Associated Press report (link via USA Today). Hansen’s group has increased the private funding in its arena plan and re-submitted it to Seattle City Council, per The Associated Press.
  • Will ESPN and ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy ever return to the sidelines to coach an NBA team? His brother thinks it’s still a real possibility. “Yeah, with the right situation, absolutely. I don’t know if he will, but I definitely can see it,” Stan Van Gundy said, per Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times. “He misses parts of it (coaching), but he also has a real good job, so it goes both ways.”
  • Within his latest draft notebook for The Vertical, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress passes along several interesting notes, writing that player agents aren’t enthusiastic about the NBA’s new two-way contracts and suggesting that 2017 will be a weak draft class for NCAA upperclassmen and international players.
  • Terrance Ferguson is the mystery man of the 2017 draft class, according to Neil Johnson of ESPN.com, who takes a closer look at the 18-year-old who is playing professional ball in Australia.

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Seattle, Rumors, NBL

Earlier this month, USA Basketball announced that Jerry Colangelo was stepping down from his position as USA Basketball Chairman, with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reporting at the time that retired general Martin Dempsey was on track to replace Colangelo. Dempsey’s election as the new chairman is now official, according to an NBA.com press release. The vote took place at USA Basketball’s annual Board of Directors meeting.

“I am excited to join USA Basketball and to become part of a legacy of excellence both on and off the court,” Dempsey said in a statement. “Playing for USA Basketball is about commitment, sacrifice, and pride.  It’s about developing young men and women who are exceptional athletes but also exceptional leaders.  It’s about respecting the game and our international competitors. It’s about representing our country with honor, and it’s about winning.  I look forward to working with the USA Basketball staff, coaches, players, and families.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has partnered with Chris Hansen‘s Seattle arena group, as Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com details. As we heard last month, Hansen’s group is willing to forgo public funding in order to get approval to move forward with a new arena.
  • In a helpful piece for SBNation.com, Seth Rosenthal explains the difference between fake NBA rumors and legit ones, and how to tell the difference between the two.
  • Top recruit Terrance Ferguson ultimately chose to play this season in Australia’s National Basketball League rather than playing college ball at Arizona. A report from the Australian Associated Press (link via ESPN.com) explores whether Ferguson’s decision, along with the NBA’s one-and-done rule, could be a boon for the NBL.
  • Chris Patrick, formerly a member of Relativity Sports, has left the agency to start the Sports Law Group, which will represent athletes, coaches, and schools, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

And-Ones: Seattle, Cavs, Whiteside, Draft

The Seattle City Council dealt a major blow to hopes that the city will be the home of an NBA team any time soon, voting 5-4 against a measure that would have given developer Chris Hansen control of an alley on the spot where he’s seeking to build an arena, reports Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. The chances of a revival for the SuperSonics within the near future have seemed remote anyway, though we invited your discussion on the idea of expansion in Monday’s Community Shootaround. See more from around the NBA:

  • Trade acquisition Channing Frye has given the Cavaliers a “breath of fresh air,” GM David Griffin told Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal amid an interview last week in which he disputes the idea of chemistry problems in the locker room. Frye has seen sharply limited playing time in the postseason but had his best game of the playoffs Monday, scoring eight points in nine minutes of action. “He’s been a huge, huge plus,” Griffin said. “We needed someone who was truly joyful to be part of the process to remind everybody how blessed we are to be together.”
  • Griffin also lauded soon-to-be free agent James Jones for his leadership, calling him a special player, Ridenour notes.
  • Hassan Whiteside doesn’t harbor ill feelings toward the Raptors for declining to bring him to training camp after he played for Toronto’s summer league team in 2014, believing the July stint, which was his first brush with the NBA in two years, led to other opportunities that helped revive his career months later, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The Heat center is No. 10 in our latest 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • Draft prospects Brice Johnson, Malik Beasley, A.J. Hammons, Fred VanVleet, Kaleb Tarczewski and Rasheed Sulaimon have all signed with Andy Miller’s ASM Sports agency, as Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link).
  • Spanish small forward Santiago Yusta is officially eligible for this year’s draft despite his absence from the list of early entrants the NBA sent out last week, the league announced. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress pegs the 6’7″ 18-year-old as the 32nd-best overseas prospect among those born in 1997.

Hansen, Tull Want To Move Hawks To Seattle

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