Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com argues that while the city of Sacramento faces an uphill battle to keep the Kings, there's also a fair amount of pressure on the group of prospective owners from Seattle. The Kings are the only NBA team on the market for the foreseeable future, and though an NHL team may be obtained for a cheaper price, the Seattle investors, led by Chris Hansen and Howard Ballmer, would prefer a basketball team as the anchor tenant for their arena. That gives the Maloofs leverage to inflate their asking price as Sacramento prepares its counteroffer, Howard-Cooper surmises.
We've got more on Sacramento's bid right here:
- Ron Burkle, the supermarket mogul whose involvement in a push for the Kings two years ago angered the Maloof brothers, is one of two significant investors in the plan Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is organizing to keep the team in town, reports Sam Amick of USA Today. Fitness company founder Mark Mastrov is the other money man involved.
- In the same piece, Amick passes along commissioner David Stern's acknowledgement that he's been in contact with the Seattle group, even though he's unaware of any sale agreement between those investors and the Maloofs.
- Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee notes that Johnson is also trying to get local business leaders to join a bid for the team as minority partners.