SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he has received approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counter-offer to the league from investors who would keep the Kings in California's capital city.
Speaking at the annual State of Downtown Breakfast on Tuesday, Johnson said the city is in a "six-week sprint" to put together a proposal for the NBA's Board of Governors to consider. The league's deadline for teams to apply for relocation is March 1.
Local leaders like Assemblymember Roger Dickinson said it all comes down to one key factor.
"We can do it. We've got the capability. We've got the resources. We've got the desire. We've got the dedication. We've got the intent," Dickinson said. "We've got all those things that are necessary to succeed with this team as we have over the years. What we need is an ownership group that's willing to be part of success."
People with knowledge of the situation said last week that a group led by investor Chris Hansen, who wants to return the NBA to Seattle, has contacted the Maloof family about buying the Kings. They spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because no deal has been reached.
Speculation on who would make up an ownership group to keep the Kings in Sacramento has focused on several key players.
"Burkle was in discussions about a possibility a year ago or two years ago when we were there, and we have always stayed in constant contact," Johnson said last week in a news conference when asked specifically about Los Angeles in vestor Ron Burkle.
While Burkle has often been named as a candidate to own the Kings, recent reports indicate his interest may not be what it was in 2011. One local name consistently mentioned as a potential new owner is Sleep Train's Dale Carlsen. However, Carlsen said late last week he's not interested in owning the team.
Johnson has said a new arena is critical to a new ownership plan. One potential buyer, Bay Area investor and 24-hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov has reportedly expressed interest in reviving plans for an arena in the downtown railyard, but arena sites are as uncertain as prospective owners.
"Coming back to talking about Downtown Plaza as a location for an arena, we did that 10 years ago," Dickinson said. "It made great sense then; it makes enormous sense now."
That's exactly what the owner of Downtown Plaza, JMA Ventures, reportedly wants for the site of the struggling shopping center. The firm has said it's not interested in buying the team itself, but is working with an unnamed group of investors to keep the team in Sacramento.
The Kings and the NBA have declined to comment.
The Associated Press and News10/KXTV