As reported by Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee, the latest group of potential buyers is led by Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, and a Southern California billionaire named Ron Burkle.
Don't get me wrong. It's admirable that Johnson is making such a strong effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
After all, the team has been in the city since 1985 and has had some memorable seasons in recent history. Who here wasn't a fan of the Rick Adelman-coached teams headlined by Chris Webber, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic? That team came so close to a trip to the NBA Finals in 2002, only to lose a Game 7 overtime thriller to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The house fell down shortly afterward. Divac retired, and the rest of the strong veteran core left the team, via trades. The Maloof brothers once owned a team that turned Sacramento into a solid basketball town, but now can barely put a team together because of the lack of a new arena and a decreasing fan base.
The fact of the matter is that, this season, Sacramento is dead last in average attendance, at just 13,473 fans per game. There may be a few pockets of passionate Kings fans here and there, but the lack of direction and identity has turned the city into one that is not the right spot for a professional sports franchise.
Granted, if Mastrov and Burkle's bid proves to be the winning one, though it may not be as much as the bid from the group led by Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, a plan will be put in place for a new arena to be built for the team.
That is all well and good, but does not take away from the fact that the NBA would be much better off if the Kings moved to Seattle. The sad truth is that, had it not been for the ownership group being from Oklahoma City, the Thunder would likely still be the SuperSonics today. OKC has proven to be a fine basketball town, but having two star players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook helps put fans in the seats.
By moving into Seattle's Key Arena and assuming a plan for a new arena is approved, the Kings would be in a city that already has long established itself as a basketball city. Moreover, by bringing back the SuperSonics name, the merchandising possibilities are endless. There is so much money to be made that the NBA would be foolish not to approve a move.
Keeping the Kings in Sacramento would really just be delaying the inevitable. Unless the new ownership started trying to lure in big name free agents and/or prospects immediately, basically spending money with the intention of making money, things would stay as is, and the team would have to eventually be moved.
The fact is that there is a potential buyer in Seattle ready to bring the team over there for a fresh start—something that can almost definitely not happen in Sacramento. The league must take note of this and thus make sure that the right decision is made come mid-April.