Sacramento Reportedly Has a ‘Shot’ to Keep the Kings

by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

All is not lost for Kings fans, according to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson anyhow.

KJ gave a stirring and impassioned speech yesterday, promising his city that they are still very much in the fight to keep their pro basketball team. The move to Seattle — once thought to be inevitable — has some hurdles to overcome.

Per the Sac Bee and Yahoo! Sports:

With high-ranking NBA executives monitoring events closely from their suburban New York homes – one suspects, almost as closely as folks in Seattle – the mayor outlined the most current state of the Kings’ affairs as follows: Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, is the point man for an ownership group that will submit a proposal countering the $341 million offer the Maloofs have accepted from Seattle-based moguls Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer; Ron Burkle, the supermarket tycoon, will lead efforts to build an arena; the plans include replacing the Downtown Plaza with a sports and entertainment complex. There were few specifics but several other interesting offerings of note. Johnson said the list of local investors committing at least $1 million includes former Kings star Mitch Richmond. He revealed that WNBA officials have been approached about bringing back the Monarchs. Later, he seemed to leave an opening for inclusion of John Kehriotis and the Kings’ other limited partners. “Who are we?” the mayor asked the pro-Kings, pro-downtown crowd. “What defines us as a city?”

Mastrov and the local investors’ bid is “slightly lower,” than the $341 million that the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group has agreed to pay for the available 65 percent of the Kings, a high-level source involved in the talks said. “They have a shot,” the source said. “It’s still a long shot, but the bid will be close enough to cause real debate.”

Despite all of the rhetoric, the Kings’ future remains very hazy. The Maloofs are expected to “entertain” the counter-offer from the folks in Sacramento, but there’s no telling if that can or will change anything. They seem fairly hellbent on getting out of Sac-Town.

It won’t be an easy exit, if Kevin Johnson and the investors he speaks for are to be believed: “This situation before us is a defining moment,” Johnson said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will shape who are we. So with all due respect to Seattle, and I absolutely do wish them well. And I do hope they get a team someday. But let me perfectly clearly. Let me be perfectly, crystal clear. It is NOT going to be this team.”