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New potential owner for Kings takes lead in Sacramento group

Mar 21, 2013, 8:10 PM EDT

Clippers Kings Basketball AP

A few weeks back, David Stern was clear in saying that the Sacramento group had to sweeten its offer to buy the Kings if they wanted to stay in contention with the Seattle bid. It’s a negotiation, that statement didn’t catch the leaders in Sacramento off guard.

The question was what were they going to do about it?

How about bring in another billionaire to take the lead of the group? That is what has happened, reports the very connected Sam Amick at the USA Today.

Vivek Ranadive, founder of the $4 billion software company, Tibco, and a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, has agreed to take a lead role in the group that was previously led by 24-Hour Fitness founder, Mark Mastrov, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced.

Mastrov and supermarket mogul/part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins Ron Burkle are still major players in both the bid for the team and the downtown arena effort that was expected to be revealed by way of a term sheet on Thursday, but Ranadive agreed to take part recently after pushing for a more significant say in personnel matters.

This certainly adds deeper pockets to the Sacramento bid. What it will mean to the other NBA owners remains to be seen, but likely it only helps the Sacramento side. Ranadive is not an NBA outsider but a minority owner of the Warriors (he would have to sell that share if the sale is approved).

The Maloof family has agreed to sell the Kings to a Seattle-based group that plans to move the Kings up to the city that lost the Sonics. That group is led by venture capitalist Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and they valued the franchise at $525 million and have an agreement to buy 65 percent of it. They also have plans for a new arena moving forward, currently in the environmental review phase.

Both the sale and relocation would need to be approved by the other owners and NBA Commissioner David Stern has put the two votes on a parallel track. It requires a three-quarters vote of the other 29 owners to approve the sale — meaning Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his group need to sway eight other owners to their side to block the sale. If that sale is blocked, the Maloof family would in turn sell to the Sacramento group and the team would stay put.

If the sale is approved it only requires a majority vote of the owners to approve the relocation. Meaning if the owners approve the sale to the Seattle group they will approve the relocation.

There is a whole lot more complexity to this sale — a city loan to the Kings to the Maloofs, a current Kings minority owner trying to make another bid, thoughts about precedent the sale could have on future owners’ sales, all the way to discussions of television market size and per capita income — that we have discussed in detail multiple times at PBT. Right now NBA ownership committees are doing their research on the sale and relocation, and how all that impacts the league. Those committees will meet April 3 — where Johnson and the Sacramento group will make a pitch to the committees for sure.

In the end, the owners will vote at meetings in New York April 18-19, but right now is when the lobbying behind-the-scenes is taking place. And the Sacramento bid likely just got better.

  1. randomduder - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Only the new “whale” is not a billionaire…far from it. Strange this news was released just before they announced missing their deadline for coming to an arena agreement…just a little…no? Perhaps NBC should stop listening to intel from Bruski. It’s clear who his “sources” are.

  2. liddogg33 - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Please!!! Either bring someone that comes close to Balmer or just give up. I realize this is just more idiotic propaganda but come on now. A new last minute owner comes forward??? If you have any intelligence whatsoever then it would be quite easy to see that the kings moving to seattle are simply a forgone conclusion. We have the city, the arena, and the ownership group!!! Not to mention a binding purchase and sale agreement!!! Last one out of Sac town make sure to turn the lights out because after the kings leave there will NEVER be another pro sports team to even SNIFF around the city of Sacramento!!! Sorry kj!!!!

  3. gls24 - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    This latest move by Sacramento smells of desperation. No viable arena plan, last minute scrambling and a city outclassed by Seattle.

  4. smcgaels1997 - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    What’s a foregone conclusion is how uneducated your post was. So you’ll be scratching your head and whining when you have no team next year. If it was a done deal already your supposed unbeatable group lost the Sonics last time..and we’re stupid enough to deal with the one owners who have jacked the NBA’ll see how that affects your sale which will be DENIED

    • seaallday206 - Mar 22, 2013 at 5:01 AM

      If you haven’t been following the work of Chris Hansen throughout the entire process, then you are in for a shock. Chris Hansen has been working on this deal for at least two years and has answered for every question that all critics have had without hesitation. Hansen created a detailed plan and prepared for each possible scenario.

      So I have two things I want to critique on your last post. First, when you say “your supposed unbeatable group lost the Sonics last time,” I am assuming that you are referring to the Steve Ballmer, Jim Sinegal, John Stanton and Matt Griffin who tried to throw together a plan at the last minute in 2008. If that is who you are reffering to then you are completely correct; they failed to save the team. Ballmer alone has enough money to purchase the team, arena, etc. The reason that wasn’t even looked at is because they had no detailed plan. There was nothing that the owners would be able to compare. Even though there was some shady business going on between Stern and Clay Bennett, there were no plans to look at from the Seattle side.

      Fast forward to the present. Sacramento is now on the defensive. At this point in time, Sacramento has potential owners (Burkle, Mastrov, Ranadive) who want to buy the team and keep them in Sacramento. Between the three of them and contributions from the city, there is enough capital to get the deal done. Now you have to sort through the potential owners ego’s, Sacramento’s priorities, who gets what. It’s possible to get done but there isn’t enough time to sort through all of it without there being a snag along the way. All involved parties would have to be on point every step of the way.

      Your other point, stating that Hansen was “stupid enough to deal with the one owners who have jacked the NBA around.” Hansen has the funds to pay an inflated amount for a franchise because of the Maloofs financial malpractice throughout the business world. I thought it was really weird that Hansen would be paying a non-refundable $30 million fee to the Maloofs.

      Here is an example of Chris Hansen’s genius. When Hansen paid the $30 million to the Maloofs, it established a business relationship,that included signed contracts, between the two parties. Both parties came to agreement where there was a an exchange of goods that was benefical for both goods. If that sale is interrupted by an outside party (Mastrov/Burkle), the deal between Hansen and the Maloofs is protected by the tortious interference law. Both groups could sue the outside party for trying to prevent a sale.

      The NBA doesn’t want to go through a bunch of unnecessary court hearings. The have a strong offer sitting on their table and they are going approve that deal. The NBA owners are personally inclined to approve a sale that sets a record high price for a NBA team while raising the overall value of each franchise. Steve Ballmer would become the wealthiest owner in the league and would likely go into the luxury tax which would then be distributed to the smaller market teams. In the short run, the owners get to basically set a “relocation fee” at whatever they want and will split that throughout the owners. That money wouldn’t exist in the Sacramento deal.

      It sucks but you come to realize that the fans voice really doesn’t matter in transactions like this. It comes down to what deal benefits the wealth of the owners and the the league overall. The NBA is a business and it is going to take the best offer on the table.

      Plus Seattle already has the financing, political support, location, land acquisition, blueprints and approaching the end of the environmental review.

      So if Seattle has nothing, what does Sacramento have?

      • liddogg33 - Mar 23, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        Let me guess Sac fans, what he just said was “uneducated”??? Very very well put sir!! Sorry to say it but the kings are gone baby gone!!

  5. smcgaels1997 - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Oh and by the way there Einstein, your sale isn’t binding until approved…you have..wait for it…NOTHING

  6. harper2 - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Tell us your moving our team if we cannot get an arena deal done.

    Tell us your selling our team and they’re moving them to seattle.

    Tell us it’s a done deal including a non-refundable deposit.

    Tell us your trading away our top draft pick who not too long ago sparked that excitement again in Kings fans.

    Keep telling us whatever you want.

    But the Maloofs never tell us to give up, because even they know better than that; Sacramento will NEVER give up on our team.

  7. liddogg33 - Mar 22, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    You don’t have to give up. You just have to realize its OVER!!! Uneducated???? Hahaha!!! Your a hopeless hillbillily hanging on pure hopes and dreams!!! That agreement included a 30 MILLION DOLLAR DEPOSIT clown!!! Say all you want but the truth is this process has taken the Hansen and Balmer group over two years to complete and your total ignorance actually believes this propaganda that your second rate mayor can throw a proposal together in a matter of months to compete!! I got news for you clown your kings are gone and all the insults you sling can’t save them. Have you seen where the new arena will sit in downtown seattle???? Next to our TWO OTHER pro sports teams??? What can your city possibly offer???? I do thank you for your insults. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long long time!!!

    • sponedal2013 - Mar 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      “You’re.” Apparently we have an education system that teaches grammar which we can offer over Seattle.

      And Seattle would know about 2nd rate mayors huh? *cough Greg Nickels cough*. I don’t think you’re a real Sonics fan, maybe a bandwagon fan. The REAL Sonics fans I’ve talked to have been respectful of the situation, as they’re all too familiar with it.

      • seaallday206 - Mar 23, 2013 at 1:24 AM

        Good call on the Nickels rip. If he would have grown a pair, neither city would be in this situation.

  8. nickmiller63 - Mar 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    You are a clown.

  9. liddogg33 - Mar 22, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Maybe. But just wait and see. I’m a clown that’s speaking the truth!!!

  10. godrew - Mar 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Kings will be staying in sac. Only 8 owners have to disagree with the sale. one owner clay Bennet already moved out of seattle, ranavide is a minority owner of the dubs, im sure he will have joe lacob on his side and many others that will not approve this sale.

  11. asimonetti88 - Mar 22, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    I don’t really seeing the owners set a precedent that they can’t sell to whoever they want. Who knows though.

    • nodaclu - Mar 22, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      No matter what the NBA does here, it will set a precedent…that’s the interesting part.

      If they let the sale to Seattle go through, they will be walking away from a $250+ million public subsidy from the City of Sacramento in favor of a bid that is 100% privately financed, with zero public dollars being contributed.

      The league doesn’t really want to set *that* precedent either.

      The fact that the league has never relocated a team from a city that has offered public money to build a brand new arena (in addition to selling out the entire season for 19 of its 27 seasons in the city – the last 2-3 years are tough to count as the Maloof rolling trainwreck has clearly had an impact on attendance) is more minor compared to the first item above, but is still worth adding to the conversation.

      Either way, the NBA is going to be forced to send a message to itself and the other owners that it would probably rather not send.

  12. eugenesaxe - Mar 22, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Does the new-and-improved ownership-to-be team measure up to Ballmer? No?

  13. lake52 - Mar 23, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    As much as you guys say “To little. To late”, you must understand something. On January 8th, we were celebrating that the Kings would be not applying for relocation to Virginia Beach. Then the next day, the Kings were sold to Seattle. We have only had a little over 2 months to bring forward an ownership group and arena plan. The Maloofs constantly said “The Kings are not for sale.” The Maloofs constantly said “We are committed to Sacramento.” We’ve had two months to put together our plan. You may argue that we’ve had plenty of years in the past to build a new arena. You’re right… twice now the Maloofs have backed out of an arena with shovels ready. Only once could you blame it on another factor (being CalExpo.)

    Also, at this point, money doesn’t matter. Ballmer isn’t some big celebrity outside the tech world. Neither is Hansen, Burkle, Mastrov, or Vivek. Surprisingly, the most well known potential owners are also the ones with the least money (the Nordstrom family.) My point is that at this point all 6 (and Kehriotis) can afford the price tag of 525 million. This won’t be determined on Ballmers supposed 15 billion sitting around. Cause in all honesty, it’s not. I’m sorry to break it to you, Ballmer is valued at 15 billion because he’s the CEO of a 230 billion dollar company. Money is not an issue.

    Now on to fan support… When the Sonic’s left, some people got together fought for a few minutes, then became Sounders fans. When the Kings have threatened to leave (attempt #3 now) the entire city came together. They fought together and currently have a 2-0 record. You could argue that the attendance doesn’t reflect this, but not everyone that is a Kings fan is sitting around on STR or Twitter all day. To them, the Kings are our terrible team that chooses a new city on the dart board yearly to move. Now I must say, Seattle had pretty good fans too. However, Sacramento has been one of the most successful markets in the NBA. Fan support… another non-issue.

    Now market wise, I want to direct you to this report.
    You could argue that it’s biased, but it surely lays out some pretty good facts. Per sports team, Sacramento has 114 companies with 500+ employees while Seattle has 1/2. Sacramento also beats Seattle (that’s the city of Sacramento. Not the entire metro area) in companies with 50 million plus in revenue per sports team.

    All of Seattle’s arguments are invalid. Give me one and I’ll shoot it down.

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