With a new investor involved and a whole lot of money on the table, it looks like there's a real chance the Sacramento Kings could be staying put after all.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today:
"The group of investors hoping to buy the Kings and keep them from being moved to Seattle have agreed on a deal with the city of Sacramento for a new bid that will be submitted to the NBA at an April 3 meeting in New York."
With software developer and Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive joining the duo of Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle, Amick reports that the trio's total investment, which would include the purchase of the Kings and the construction of a downtown Sacramento arena, is close to $1 billion.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has been on something of a crusade to keep the Kings in town, announced the news via his Twitter account:
I’m pleased to announce an agreement w/ Burkle-Mastrov-Ranadive group on a public-private partnership to build a new ESC at DT Plaza Mall...— Kevin Johnson (@KJ_MayorJohnson) March 23, 2013
The former player has fought tooth and nail against all efforts to move the Kings out of Sacramento, which makes this latest development something of a personal victory:
With all that said...I'm pumped!!Ron B & I officially closed the deal a few mins ago - maybe this pic says it best! twitter.com/KJ_MayorJohnso…— Kevin Johnson (@KJ_MayorJohnson) March 23, 2013
Johnson may not want to celebrate just yet, though.
The Maloof family still has an agreement in place with a Seattle-based group that includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen. That $525 million deal to purchase 65 percent of the franchise is still technically in place, so there'll be a few more hoops to jump through before it's a certainty that the Kings will be staying in Sacramento.
In a saga that has featured more twists and turns than a bad soap opera, the latest news is certainly positive for Sacramento and Kings fans who'd like to see their team stay where it is.
After the Seattle group submitted its offer to the league, NBA Commissioner David Stern indicated that the latest counter proposal out of Sacramento—one that didn't feature Ranadive—wasn't competitive enough to be considered.
According to Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times:
"NBA commissioner David Stern said two weeks ago Sacramento’s offer to buy the team would have to be improved to be considered by the league’s Board of Governors when it meets next week whether to approve the Seattle offer. Sounds like it is hoped that Ranadive will help bridge that gap."
Ranadive certainly helps Sacramento's cause, as does the new money he brings into the equation. But the process is far from over.
The NBA will have a chance to approve or deny the deal on April 3.