The Maloof family, the majority owners of the Sacramento Kings basketball team, have struck a deal to sell the team to a group that would move it to Seattle. But Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson says his city won't give up so easily. The NBA must approve any deal.
Johnson, who was a three-time All Star in his 12 years in the NBA, told a press conference Tuesday afternoon that he has commitments from 19 local investors to put in a million dollars apiece to buy the team and keep it in the state capital. (After the press conference, Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee tweeted that Johnson has secured a twentieth investor.)
$20 million's a drop in the basket against the $340 million that the Maloofs have been offered by the Seattle group, but Johnson says he has at least one big-money investor – he refers to them as “whales” – who will be firmed up in the next week or so.
The Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday that the "whales" might be Ron Burkle, a billionaire who is co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey club, and Mark Mastrov, the founder of the 24 Hour Fitness chain. Both have previously expressed an interest in the team. The Bee says they would not only buy the Kings, but also be involved in financing a new arena.