Sacramento Kings minority owner John Kehriotis said today he has pulled the plug on his effort to put together an investment team to bid for control of the team.
Kehriotis, who owns 12 percent of the team, had said he hoped to assemble financing for a back-up offer to the deal the team's majority partners, the Maloofs, recently signed with a Seattle group. His plan was to keep the team in Sacramento.
"One of my key investors bounced out," he said today. "So we are not going forward."
Another group backed by Mayor Kevin Johnson, however, submitted a bid to buy the team last month, and will go to New York with the mayor on Wednesday to make its case to the NBA that it be allowed to buy the team and keep it in Sacramento. Representatives from Seattle will also be there to answer league questions about their bid for the team.
By late this afternoon, the mayor's www.herewebuy.org website registered 8,759 pledges from Sacramento residents to buy season tickets if the Kings remain in town. Johnson has said he hopes to go to New York next week with 10,000 pledges.
Meanwhile, a Sacramento bankruptcy court trustee officially filed papers with the court today informing it he had reached a deal earlier this week with a member of the Seattle-based group, Chris Hansen, to sell Hansen a 7-percent share of the team for $15.1 million. Those shares belong to Sacramento businessman Bob Cook, who is in bankruptcy. The trustee, David Flemmer, said the Hansen bid was the only serious offer he received.
The four current team minority owners, however, have 15 days to match the offer, under a "right of first opportunity" provision. Flemmer indicated he informed the minority partners on Wednesday of the sale via overnight mail. Two of the minority partners have told the Bee they will consider matching the Seattle purchase price. Two others could not be reached.
Johnson said earlier this week he was aware of the sale of the seven percent shares, and would make a counter-move to stop that sale. He declined to say what he planned. On Friday, a spokesman for Johnson again declined comment on what that move would be or when it might happen.