SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There’s another addition to the investor group to save the Kings and keep the team from moving to Seattle, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Friday morning via social media.
Chris Kelly, a former Facebook executive and 2010 California Attorney General candidate, has joined the mayor’s former “Fab Four” group of investors now composed of TIBCO founder Vivek Ranadivé, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, Sacramento developer Mark Friedman, and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs.
On his Facebook page, Kelly wrote, “I am very excited to be a part of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Buying the Kings is much bigger and more important than the purchase of a basketball team.
This group of California leaders and entrepreneurs are going to transform the Capitol of our great state an rebuild an incredible franchise.
After talking with Mayor Johnson and Vivek, I know this is going to be a very special experience and I can’t wait to get started.”
The announcement comes days after Johnson revealed that billionaire Ron Burkle would not be investing in the arena or the team. NBA officials say Burkle’s ownership of Relativity Sports, which manages NBA athletes, could present a conflict of interest since it might give an unfair advantage to players if Burkle owned part of the Kings.
On Wednesday, the Maloofs issued an ultimatum to the Sacramento investor group, saying they want an offer in writing by Friday 5 p.m. or they will not negotiate with Johnson’s investors, no matter what.
The Chris Hansen-led Seattle investor group has a pending agreement with the Maloofs to buy their 65-percent majority share of the team, and has already made a non-refundable deposit payment of $30 million. If successful, they will relocate the team to the former home of the SuperSonics, which relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.
The Sports Business Journal is reporting that the NBA has asked Sacramento investors to not only match Seattle’s offer, but also cover the non-refundable deposit. Yet, NBA Commissioner David Stern has said that the two offers are structured differently so they’re hard to compare.
At Wednesday’s Kings game, Johnson said the NBA’s deadline — not the Maloofs’ — is the one he is focused on.
There’s been a lot of speculation about what the Maloofs’ Friday 5 p.m. ultimatum could mean for keeping the Kings in town. Bay Area sports consultant Andy Dolich says it could mean the family has doubts the Seattle proposal will go through.
“I think at the end of the day, it won’t be about all these rumors being said. It will be about two good offers from two good cities that both deserve teams. The difference is, we have a team here and we should keep our team,” Johnson said at Wednesday’s game.
The big question for the Maloofs: What will they do if Seattle’s offer is rejected by the NBA?
Sources say they are looking to take the money from the sale of the Kings and purchase either a National Hockey League team or a Major League Baseball team.
A vote on the Kings’ future is expected during the NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York next week. However, after the April 3 meeting, Stern said the vote may be delayed due to the difficult decision the owners are faced with.
“We’ve never had a situation like this,” Stern said.
Johnson would not comment, during Wednesday’s game on whether or not rumors of the vote expected during the NBA’s meetings on April 18-19 would be delayed.
Steve Large will be live in New York on April 18-19 for the meetings. You can follow him on Twitter at @largesteven.