While it's looking more and more likely that the Sacramento Kings will move to Seattle, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson swears he's going to do whatever he can to keep the Kings from relocating.
In an interview with USA Today's Sam Amick, Johnson said he believes there's still a chance to keep the Kings in Sacramento, despite a report that the Maloof family had reached a $525 million handshake deal with the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer Group to bring the NBA back to Seattle.
Johnson is confident that NBA commissioner David Stern will give him the necessary time to organize an effort to find a potential Sacramento-based buyer, and Stern himself said Thursday night that those potential buyers do in fact deserve a fair shot.
Because a Sacramento-based ownership group would not have to pay a relocation fee or a $77 million city loan, they do not have to match the Seattle offer dollar-for-dollar. Johnson estimates that a reasonable offer to keep the team in Sacramento would be around $425-450 million:
"I think from my standpoint, we're thinking about $450 (million) -- $425 to $450 (million)," he said. "There's a lot of due diligence that has to take place on both sides. But everybody we're talking to, who has some interest, they know the number is going to be pretty darn high. It's going to be over $400 (million) for sure. The good thing is that there's not a shortage of people who are interested."
Amick notes that any Sacramento offer would have to include a viable arena plan in order to be considered by the NBA. This likely means agreeing to the plan that Johnson, AEG and the NBA put together this past year, a plan that was rejected by the Maloofs.
The names of several possible investors have emerged, including supermarket mogul Ron Burkle and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov. Johnson has been working hard in recent weeks to get these men together in order to craft a strong offer to the Maloofs. Johnson's group has until March 1 to put forth an offer.