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Another crazy twist in Kings/Sonics saga

SACRAMENTO — The Maloof brothers, who own the Sacramento Kings, are giving Sonics fans another reason to hope for a return to Seattle.

sonicsESPN.com is reporting that the Maloofs are cutting a new deal with Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, the deep-pocketed Seattle-based investors trying to acquire the team.

Two sources told ESPN.com the Maloofs have informed their fellow owners that if their deal to sell and relocate the Kings to Seattle is not approved by league owners next week, they will not sell the team to a Sacramento-based group that wants to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

ESPN.com reports that the cash-strapped Maloofs have made a “backup” agreement with the Hansen-Ballmer group to sell them 20 percent of the team for $125 million to allow the Maloofs to continue to operate the franchise.

The new agreement follows Friday’s announcement that Hansen upped his offer by $75 million to buy the franchise. The voluntarily increase to the proposed purchase price for the Sacramento Kings went up from $550 million to $625 million.

Sources told ESPN.com that the new proposal also included a $115 million offer to owners as a relocation fee, which would amount to about $4 million per team. By comparison, in 2008 when the Oklahoma City Thunder moved from Seattle, they paid a $30 million fee to the other owners.

ESPN.com reports the NBA relocation committee is planning to re-evaluate the Hansen-Ballmer offer and has scheduled another meeting ahead of next Tuesday’s full owners’ meeting in Dallas.

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