1. Went straight to Kevin Johnson and/or Burkle and said, 'we're selling the team, here's the price tag" and negotiated from there.
They've publicly stated their animosity towards both of those men so it's no surprise that things didn't unfold in that fashion. But what they definitely could have done was
2. Negotiated a sale price with Hansen and then taken that figure back to Sacramento and said that if they could match it they'd sell locally.
Those are the actions of an ownership group that prefers to keep the team in town.
What the Maloofs did was a negotiate exclusively with Hansen/Ballmer and then sign a "binding" agreement to sell to them without negotiating other offers. That is most decidedly NOT the course of action pursued by an owner who would prefer not to uproot a franchise and screw over a fan base.
If the Kings do end up staying in Sacramento it won't be in any way because the Maloofs wanted that to be the outcome. It will be because Stern and the BOG dictated that outcome. There's no redemption available for the Maloofs in this story. They are the bad guys.