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Sources: “Mega-Whales” Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov in serious talks with Sacramento

Jan 22, 2013, 11:50 PM EDT

Ron Burkle2

There aren’t a lot of people willing to give Sacramento much of a fighting chance to hold on to the Kings, but they’re not going down without a big money fight.

Sources familiar with the situation tell ProBasketballTalk that “mega whales” Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov are in serious talks with the city of Sacramento to collaborate on a bid to buy the Kings and keep them in California’s capitol.

Additionally, sources report that there is no shortage of bidders as at least five groups have approached the city and have NBA-level credentials.

Burkle famously was interested in buying the Kings from the Maloofs when they filed for relocation in 2011, but was rebuffed by the family in an emotional response.

From Sacramento’s perspective, the combination of Burkle and Mastrov would be an extremely compelling group to present to the NBA’s Board of Governors, and is being called a “dream team” by those close to the negotiations. Burkle, a billionaire, has transformed the Pittsburgh Penguins into a model NHL franchise and was coveted by Commissioner David Stern, who excitedly told Kevin Johnson last year, “You’ve got Burkle?” Mastrov founded the 24 Hour Fitness chain and finished second in a recent bid to purchase the Warriors, ahead of billionaire Larry Ellison.

Both owners would work with the city of Sacramento using a model of last year’s arena plan that was negotiated and agreed upon by David Stern and AEG. Sources say that their interest is derived from Sacramento’s burgeoning basketball marketplace, a market they has been evaluated in talks to be a top-5 NBA market when one factors in the lack of other sports competition.

Hanging over the situation is the fact that the NBA has received over $3 billion in public subsidy money for arenas since 1990, and sources with knowledge of the situation maintain that Sacramento’s current “model offer” of public funds will not go unrecognized by the NBA’s Board of Governors. Aside from a public relations nightmare similar to that of Sonicsgate, the league’s ability to secure future funds from cities could be threatened if Sacramento is abandoned for Seattle. Yahoo! Sports and CSN Bay Area have reported that the Board of Governors has already made up their minds to support a move to Seattle, but sources speaking to PBT on the condition of anonymity don’t see it that way.

The Sacramento Bee and USA Today were first to report these developments.

  1. balfe13 - Jan 22, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    On behalf of Seattle sports fans… STOP TOYING WITH US!!!

    • willtowne16 - Jan 23, 2013 at 3:04 AM


      • liddogg33 - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        on behalf of everyone.. As an avid seattle sports fan the truth is this sucks for EVERYONE!! I for one wish i could get my sonics back from the hillbillies in OKC and you guys could keep your team!! It sucks to know they have our team and we are stuck in between not having a team or stealing the city of sacrementos kings.. I remember what it felt like to lose my team and have really been feeling terrible for what you guys are set to go through. The truth is its HOWARD SHULTZ and the MALOOFS FAULT!!! PERIOD!!! Not the fans!!!!! For what its worth most of us Seattleites (probably not spelled right) would prefer to have Kevin Durant and the the boys back!!!!!

  2. benihanagt - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    Seattle group were having “serious talks” over a year ago. To get these “whales” to have “serious talks” with the help of the city, get a plan and agreement together for both a bid on the team and an agreement on the new arena in a few weeks, along with revenue projections, and enough data to show how their plan is better and more beneficial than Seattle to the other 31 owners of the NBA and the NBA as a whole is very ambitious. They have to be on this 24/7 until it is done.

  3. smcgaels1997 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    The NBA could make this very easy and just give Seattle an expansion team…Sacramento is lining up heavy hitters too..and the Maloof’s mistreatment of everything doesn’t sit well with the NBA. I’mpressed with that little cowtown, they sure don’t quit

    • sasquash20 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:08 AM

      Last thing the NBA needs is another expansion team. League is to watered down to begin with.

  4. smcgaels1997 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    Everyone’s assuming that KJ hasn’t been liking all this up. Sacramento has an arena deal in place just needs the green light from new owners. I think the media assumed that Seattle has more info.. Burkle is a huge name. Things are going to get interesting

  5. MyTeamsAllStink - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    Isn’t it the Maloofs decision and their decision alone who they decide to sell the team to?I want the Kings to stay put but in all fairness the NBA can’t dictate who the Maloofs may or may not sell to.

    • DJ MC - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:23 AM

      Sure they can. The league can approve or reject any potential sale. That’s the law the NBA set up.

      • Kurt Helin - Jan 23, 2013 at 11:25 AM

        Just to clarify, the other owners can reject any sale. The owners make up the Board of Governors and the board must approve all sales.

      • brueso - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Yes, the other owners can block the sale to Seattle. But some might be afraid that doing it might set a precedent they don’t want set, because some day they might want to sell their own team and don’t want to get blocked by other owners.

  6. dgbk - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:44 AM

    yes the nba can tell them who to sell it to.. everything has to be approved by the other owners. like if u bought a mcdonalds franchise. it is ur mcdonalds but u cant do watever u want with it with out approval,u cant make the mc’lobster because u like seafood.

    the maloofs own the kings but they are a franchise in the nba and need approval

    • sasquash20 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:09 AM


  7. badintent - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:45 AM

    “Mr. Stern . There’s a ,man claiming to be worth $ 500 million dollars and living in Sacremento on the phone for you .”
    “Another nut job. Anyone that is worth 1% of that $$ would not live in that dumphole.California , land of fruits and nuts.”
    Your’re right Mr. Stern. Your’re always right . ”
    ” Take a message. I ‘m going to lunch with Trump, he wants a team, in Scotland, next to his new golf development with condos and casino

    • mazblast - Jan 23, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      The story doesn’t say where Burkle or Mastrov live.

  8. cityfella - Jan 23, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    The saga has long grown tired…… This coming from a Kings fan……. Let them move to El Paso Texas . Sacramento will survive. Because if the Zillionares are successful, they will be coming to me and the other taxpayers for money for an Arena that will have a shelf life of less than 30 years. Rinse and Repeat.

  9. nickmiller63 - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Who cares where they live.

  10. rollteal - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    The League only as 30 teams so an expansion team would give some unbalance but I still think it would be a much better option. But giving a 31st team to Seattle and selling Sacramento to local owners.

  11. zblott - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    At least 5 serious groups of bidders have come forward to purchase a franchise with nothing going for it, and fans are supposed to believe the owners are having a hard time making money?

    How do people EVER get duped by these guys? The next time the NBA is negotiating with the players, I wish the media and public as a whole would push for all owners complaining about their club’s income to sell the franchise immediately. There’s no shortage of buyers willing to spend $100million over the team’s value (let alone over what the last billionaire paid for it), so GTFO of the business.

    • brueso - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      Howard Schultz was the worst when it came to a millionaire owner who whined all the time about how owning a team was making him lose $$. Here he is the head of Starbucks acting like he ended up with a team without having done diligent research about the negatives (lose $$ along the way) and positive (probably tax breaks and definite big payday when you sell). And he wondered why taxpayers were tired of bailing out millionaire team owners with new arenas!

  12. alphabeta49er - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Expansion teams to Seattle and Vegas. Convert Palms into NBA arena. Hang Magoofs in effigy from arena jumbotron. Shoot them with t-shirt potato gun at halftime.

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