The financier who wants to prevent the Sacramento Kings from leaving town has emerged as a possible buyer for AEG, the sports-entertainment conglomerate with extensive ties to the NBA.

Ron Burkle's interest in AEG, or Anschutz Entertainment Group, could strengthen Sacramento's hand as it fights with a Seattle investment group for control of the Kings.

AEG, which put itself up for sale last summer, operates arenas for eight NBA teams and is a partner with the league in an arena in Shanghai. The Los Angeles company also has committed to working on an arena project in Sacramento.

Billboard magazine reported that a group including Burkle, fellow Southern California billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and Goldman Sachs is one of three finalists in the bidding for AEG.

A longtime Burkle associate, Los Angeles investment banker Lloyd Greif, confirmed Burkle's involvement in the AEG bid.

As previously reported, Burkle is in serious discussions with Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov on a bid for the Kings. The group plans to submit its offer directly to the NBA in hopes that the league will reject the Maloof family's pending sale of the franchise to investors from Seattle.

If Burkle's group winds up buying AEG, it could bolster its argument to the NBA about the Kings.

"Advantage in this, I think, is clearly Sacramento's," said Bay Area sports consultant Andy Dolich, a former NBA team executive.