SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The latest on the Kings-Seattle-Sacramento front after conversations with people with knowledge of negotiations, and the disclaimer that all information has a shelf life of 17 seconds in this never-ending saga of a franchise in search of a permanent home:
* There are strong indications, though nothing official, that the Maloof family has not closed a deal with the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group in Seattle. That is counter to the report that said the Maloofs had a handshake agreement with Hansen-Ballmer, and is obviously very, very good news for Sacramento.
* It remains difficult to determine the timeline of negotiations with potential buyers who would keep the team in Sacramento, whether the Maloofs are close to a sale that would return the NBA to Washington state and all other talks are dormant and mostly a safety net for the embattled Kings owners. But it does appear conversations are continuing apart from Hansen-Ballmer. The Maloofs have not ended other talks. Again, good news for Sacramento.
* Sacramento officials are still lining up financing. They are playing catch up to Seattle, on the business side and the government side, and so this remains a steep climb. But some insiders believe Sacramento has a legitimate shot at pulling this off. There is real optimism.
* The wild card remains the same: the Maloofs. No one dares to guess with any certainty what they will do next as family dynamics, the potential for a record price for an NBA sale and the emotions crash together. (Selling the Rockets, after their late father had owned the team, has remained a regret decades later. Sell again and they are almost certainly out of the NBA business for good.) It is possible to get an accurate survey of the process, but not of how many times a day the Maloofs are changing their thinking.
* This business that the Maloofs want to still have some control as minority owners after they sell (if they sell), as some reports suggest? Laughable. Chances of that happening are somewhere between zero percent and zero percent.
* Bottom line: Sacramento is not close to out of the woods. But it is far from a certainty that Seattle will get the next-generation SuperSonics. A lot remains to be decided.