The latest news out of Sacramento is the alleged emergence of their 'whale' who is going to ride (or swim) into town and rescue the Kings from the dastardly Hansen/Ballmer group who's intent is to take them to Seattle.
Apparently Ron Burkle is leading the charge, although, as is consistant with Kevin Johnson's tactics, there has been zero confirmation from Burkle about any interest in this. News reports continue to 'leak' out of Sacramento, conveniently feeding hope to the local fans and media. Reading between the lines, it's clear this is a Hail Mary, a half-court desperation shot by Johnson to minimize the political damage he's going to suffer when the Kings leave town on his watch. It's understandable. It's not even his fault. However, it's too late. Now this is merely face-saving stunt. Even if he could snare his whale, there still is no arena deal in place.
Kevin, you're down by 18 with 30 seconds to go. Is victory possible? Yes. Is it likely? Not very.
The smoking gun in all of this is the $30 million non-refundable deposit Hansen/Ballmer have agreed to. Make no mistake - these guys are smart and savvy and have the best legal teams in the world (arguably, anyway) at their disposal. Hansen is an investment wiz. These guys aren't gambling $30 million without assurances of a return. That money is likely a guarantee that the Maloofs will not negotiate or sell to any other parties, which makes it the smoking gun that this is probably already a done deal, sans some basic formalities. It's unlikely anyone can match the financial resources Hanson and Ballmer (who's worth a reported 17 billion) have, and even if they could, the Maloofs are not obligated to sell to them. That's what $30 million ensures.
As for the approval process, that too is as good as done. Stern wants this to happen, the NBA owners want this to happen, Clay Bennet HAS to move the process forward or get brutalized in the media. The Seattle market is more lucrative, the ownership group determined and hungry to field a winner, and Stern can finally erase the biggest black eye on his tenure; ushering the original Supersonics out of Seattle.
All the evidence points to a done deal in Sacramento.
If you are a fan in Sacramento, beleive me, you have all of Seattle's synmpathies. I went through this when the Sonics were thugged from us, and those were entirely different circumstances, and much more painful. Clay Bennett, now the chairman of the relocation committee (ironic, huh?) biought the team and announced many times he was keeping them in Seattle. Later, the evidence proved he was lying the whole time. Not only that, but Bennett systematicall destroyed the franchise and alienated the fan base to expedite the move. It's all documented in Sonicsgate the movie.
Hanson/Ballmer are transparent in their intent to buy and move the team