Now that an NBA committee has recommended blocking the Kings' proposed move to Seattle, the focus in Sacramento has turned toward finalizing a local deal to buy the franchise.
Mayor Kevin Johnson said today the Sacramento contingent is still trying to understand how the next two weeks will play out, but that the group hopes to have a deal finalized by the time the NBA's Board of Governors votes on the matter May 15. The purchase would need to be accepted by the Maloofs, who currently own the team.
"We hope to be in a position at that point where our ownership group gets approved," said the mayor, speaking after a schoolyard garden dedication at Sacramento Charter High School. "That's our end game."
The Sacramento group is led by Silicon Valley executive Vivek Ranadive. The Jacobs family of San Diego - founders of communications giant Qualcomm - would serve as vice chairs of the group.
The Maloof family still has an agreement to sell the Kings to hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer, who are seeking to move the team to Seattle. In a statement released late Monday, Hansen said he remains "fully committed to seeing this transaction through."
Hansen added his team has "clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid arena plan (than Sacramento), have offered a much higher price than the yet-to-be-finalized Sacramento group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow. As such, we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor's meeting in mid-May."
Johnson would not address Hansen's remarks about the Sacramento arena plan or ownership group, but said he didn't blame Hansen for fighting.
"If I were them, I would keep fighting too," the mayor said. "That's been our story the last three or four years. I don't look down or begrudge anybody who's fighting for something they desperately want."
Still, Johnson added, "I think the message out of New York (with the relocation vote Monday) was very loud and very clear."
Johnson said he didn't think the 7-0 vote by the NBA relocation committee to recommend the Kings stay in Sacramento was an indictment of Seattle.
"It's about a community (Sacramento) that has supported and been a great partner of the NBA for the last 28, 29 years," he said. "How do you frown upon that? How does that not carry weight? How does that not give us the home court advantage? I think (Monday) it did."