An offer to keep the Kings in Sacramento can be made directly to the NBA instead of the team’s owners, Mayor Kevin Johnson told an audience for his annual State of Downtown address Tuesday.
The Sacramento Bee reported Johnson said the counter-offer to Chris Hansen’s reported $525 million pitch to move the franchise to Seattle can be received by the NBA Board of Governors (owners). Johnson said the new development was approved by Commissioner David Stern.
But the offer must include concrete plans for a downtown arena, said Johnson, who called the reported franchise sale price “outrageous.” The presumption is that a sale to local owners would avoid relocation fees as well as a $77 million payoff on loans the Kings owners owe to the city.
Johnson said he has a plan to keep the Kings in town with local ownership that includes Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24-Hour Fitness who in 2010 made an unsuccessful bid to buy the Golden State Warriors.
“We want this to be the final act of a saga that’s gone on for far too long,” he said.
Perhaps a key element in Johnson plan allows participation for the Maloof family that has owned the team since 1998. Johnson said the Maloofs “can participate in some way” in the new local ownership group “if they want to remain a part of this team and this community.”
Other reports have said that Hansen’s group wants no active role, if any, for the Maloofs, should the club be relocated to Seattle.
Making the offer directly to the NBA is apparently a work-around devised by Johnson to avoid dealing directly with the Maloofs, who have indicated they are done dealing with Johnson and Sacramento after the owners backed out of a proposal a year ago to put a new arena downtown.
Stern last week said it was “reasonable” to hear a plan from local buyers to keep the team in Sacramento.