The Seattle Times
SEATTLE — Several media reports Friday lent credence to reports that billionaire Ron Burkle is among those who might be interested in buying the NBA’s Kings in an attempt to keep the team in Sacramento.
USA Today and The Sacramento Bee each reported Friday that Burkle — a supermarket mogul who also owns the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins — met with NBA commissioner David Stern on Thursday in New York City for approximately two hours.
There had been several reports earlier in the week that Burkle might be interested in teaming with Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, to make a counteroffer to the agreement reached earlier this week between the team’s current owners, the Maloof family, and a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The Seattle group is reported to have paid roughly $341 million to purchase 65 percent of the team at a valuation of $525 million. That deal still must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors, as well as a request to relocate the team to Seattle.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is attempting to assemble a group that can make a competing offer to convince the NBA to not approve the deal between the Maloofs and the Seattle group, and keeping the team where it has played since 1985.
USA Today reported that the Burkle meeting with Stern is another sign that Sacramento’s effort is being taken seriously by the NBA. Stern has already said Johnson will have a chance to address the NBA Board of Governors at its annual meeting in mid-April, when the sale of the team would be voted on.
USA Today also reported Friday that the March 1 deadline to file for relocation might be pushed back until the board can hear both sides, and while the Board of Governors has its annual meeting in mid-April, the league has the ability to organize a vote at a different time.