The Sacramento contingent seeking to buy the Kings held back Saturday from delivering a counter to an increased bid for the franchise from Seattle, instead portraying the new offer as a move of desperation that is unlikely to sway the NBA's decision on which city will get the franchise.
It remained unclear Saturday when the Sacramento group would file its own formal and written offer for the team - or whether that bid would match the new offer on the table from a Seattle contingent led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer.
A legal expert told The Bee that the NBA has the right to accept a lower offer.
The NBA said it has scheduled a special meeting of a committee of team owners to review Seattle and Sacramento's offers Wednesday in New York, a day before the league's Board of Governors convenes. Unlike the meeting the committee held April 3, this time the owners won't entertain presentations from either city.
The committee will eventually recommend to the league's Board of Governors - consisting of all 30 team owners - whether to accept the Seattle bid or keep the team here. A decision by the board on the matter could come as early as Thursday or Friday.
Hansen announced late Friday that he and the Maloof family, which has owned the Kings since 1999, had agreed on a sale price that valued the team at $25 million above what the parties had agreed upon in January.
Under the new agreement, the team would be valued at $550 million - meaning the Maloof family and their partner, Robert Hernreich, stand to make nearly $360 million for its 65 percent interest in the franchise if the transaction is approved by the NBA.
The overall team value is $100 million above the record price for an NBA franchise.
The increased bid was made public late Friday, just hours after a source close to the situation told The Sacramento Bee that the Sacramento contingent had notified the NBA it planned to match the original Seattle offer.
Earlier Friday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced that former Facebook executive Chris Kelly had joined the group, which also includes Silicon Valley software tycoon and Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive; 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov; members of San Diego's Jacobs family, founders of telecommunications giant Qualcomm; and Sacramento developer Mark Friedman.
A source said the group had begun turning away wealthy investors seeking to join the bid.
Despite the escalating value of the Seattle bid, NBA Commissioner David Stern has said he did not expect a bidding war between the two cities.
Those close to the Sacramento bid brushed aside the new offer, with a source close to the situation saying the added $25 million from Hansen "isn't that much money in the grand scheme of things."
The Hansen and Ballmer group was quiet Saturday.
The Maloofs were quiet Saturday about whether they were still open to considering a back-up bid from Sacramento. They had previously told Sacramento they wanted a back-up offer by Friday. Sacramento did not deliver, choosing instead to work with the NBA on fashioning its bid and making its case.
The Sacramento contingent claimed Hansen's new, higher bid was not altering its approach for keeping the city's lone major league sports franchise.
Mayoral spokesman Ben Sosenko would not say when the group planned to file its bid with the NBA, or whether that bid would match the increased offer from Hansen.
"We are prepared to keep the same full-court press that we've applied over the last few months," Sosenko said.
A source close to the situation said the Sacramento investors remain in "constant contact" with the NBA and the Maloof family.
The source said the investment team continues to exchange documents with the league regarding the city's plans for a new downtown sports arena, information on the members of the proposed ownership team and details on the group's plans for bidding on the Kings. The source said the Sacramento contingent is "actively engaged with the process that the NBA has set forth" for making a bid on the team.