Reporting Steve Large
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The Sacramento-Seattle West Coast war over the Kings in now headed for Texas.
“It is kind of the final act,” Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “It’s act three. We’re going to Houston knowing what’s at stake. The Seattle people would like you to believe that the deal is done. And the deal is not done.”
Johnson is scheduled to leave for Houston’s NBA All-star weekend Thursday, where he’ll lobby NBA owners to block a Maloof sale of the Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer Seattle group.
The NBA requires three-fourths of the league’s owners to vote in favor of a franchise sale, meaning Johnson needs to find nine owners to cast no votes.
His three acts refer to three consecutive trips to the All-Star Game to lobby for keeping the Kings in Sacramento. The first was in reaction to the Maloofs talks with Anaheim officials about moving the team there. Last year he went to Orlando to negotiate a deal for a new downtown arena, reaching a handshake deal that the Maloofs eventually walked away from.
But the mayor will be lobbying this weekend still without an official Sacramento counteroffer, one he has promised is coming from a group reported to include billionaire Ron Burkle and multi-millionaire Mark Mastrov.
“I’m extremely confident that we’re going to put together what we need to,” Johnson said. “I’m extremely confident we’re going to meet our March 1 deadline.”
The Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer has a pending purchase agreement with the Maloof family for the Kings and already has filed for relocation. The group has an agreement in place with the city of Seattle to build a new downtown arena.
The team would go back to being called the Seattle SuperSonics. The Sonics left after the 2008 season when new ownership moved the team to Oklahoma City and changed the nickname to the Thunder.