Buoyed by a dramatic NBA vote this week in Sacramento's favor, Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday the investor group aligned with Sacramento will push to put a finalized sales deal in front of the league's board of governors when it meets at midmonth. "We hope to be in a position at that point where our ownership group gets approved," Johnson said. "That's our end game." But a host of unanswered questions suggest the days leading up to the planned May 15 NBA board meeting could provide a few more wrenching twists for Sacramento and Seattle fans. By all accounts, Sacramento wrestled the driver's seat away from competitor Seattle on Monday, thanks to an NBA committee vote recommending that the league reject a requested team move to Seattle this year. Johnson said he and his team purchase group, headed by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive, think the path is now clear for them to negotiate a deal with the Maloof family, which wants to sell its majority stake in the team. But the Seattle group, led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, has vowed to continue the fight and plans to take its case to the board of governors in two weeks. And the Maloofs have refused to make any comment this week on whether they are willing to sell to the Sacramento group, whose bid they've repeatedly dismissed as inferior. Unanswered questions have cropped up as well about the NBA's voting process. The owners' relocation committee on Monday voted 7-0 against relocation, but the finance committee was silent on the question of whether it supports or rejects the proposed sale to the Seattle group. Under league rules, the finance committee retains the right to vote on its recommendation on the Seattle sale at some point before May 15, but no vote has been scheduled. League officials declined Tuesday to say whether the board of governors would vote on a Sacramento deal if one jells by May 15, or simply vote that day on the Seattle deal. Mike McCann, a sports-law expert and NBA TV contributor, said it's possible the NBA is avoiding turning Hansen down, possibly for legal reasons, and instead is hoping Hansen will back down himself. "It may be difficult to justify turning him down as an owner," McCann said. "He's made a very competitive if not superior offer for the team." Sources said this week that the Sacramento group has agreed to put 50 percent of the $341 million it's offering for the Maloofs' controlling interest in the team into an escrow account by Friday. The idea is to show that the group has the money to seal the deal, and convince the Maloofs that its bid is serious.
Sacramento investors shooting to give NBA a finalized deal for Kings by May 15
Sacramento Bee | May 1