With an NBA vote on the future of the Sacramento Kings just a week away, a source says the league is encouraging a Sacramento business group to put 100 percent of its $341 million team purchase offer into an escrow account in hopes of persuading the Maloof family, which owns the team, to sign a deal with the local group.
A league source familiar with the situation said NBA officials are suggesting the private investment group led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive make the move to prove it has the wherewithal to sign what has been described as a backup offer to purchase the team.
The Maloof family has expressed concerns privately about the financing of the Ranadive group, which includes the Jacobs family of San Diego, owners of Qualcomm Co.
Ranadive's group already has put 50 percent of its team purchase offer into an escrow account, sources said. Putting the entire amount down would help "alleviate the Maloofs' concern, and greatly increase the likelihood a deal could get done," the source said.
The Ranadive group declined official comment Wednesday, but a source close to the Ranadive group said it remains in regular communication with NBA officials about its offer to buy the team. An NBA spokesman did not respond to a Bee request for comment.
A competing Seattle group reportedly has placed 100 percent of its higher, $357 million offer into an escrow account. The Maloof family signed a sales deal with the Seattle group several months ago, but has indicated it is willing to accept a backup offer - if that offer is firm and binding - in case the NBA rejects the Seattle deal.
League owners are scheduled to meet in Dallas on May 15 in an extraordinary session to discuss and likely vote on the future of the Kings. General speculation is that the long-running Kings saga could come to a conclusion at that meeting.
The league's relocation committee voted 7-0 last week to recommend that the league deny a request by the Maloofs to be allowed to move the team to Seattle this year. A separate advisory/finance committee had been expected to vote its recommendation on the sales deal to the Seattle group but has not yet taken that vote.
League officials say it is not yet certain what vote will be taken at the Dallas meeting. League officials have said it is likely the 30-member board of governors, made up of ownership representatives from each team, will vote on the relocation issue, and possibly on the Seattle sale.
The league source said it also is possible the board could vote on a Sacramento sale, if the local group and the Maloof family come to an agreement on a backup offer.
"Everything could be buttoned up May 15," the source said. "It's not outside the realm of possibility."
In an effort to sweeten his offer to the NBA, Ranadive recently told the league he will forgo a share of league revenue-sharing funds - culled from the league's higher moneymaking teams - once the Kings are playing in a new downtown arena.
The offer by Ranadive is expected to make it easier for league owners to approve keeping the team in Sacramento, a smaller-market city, rather than move it to Seattle, a larger market.
Spokesmen for the Maloofs declined comment Wednesday. A spokesman for the Seattle group could not be reached for comment.
Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.