The bid is in, but is it too little too late?
Kevin Johnson has announced an offer by a potential buyer for the Kings who would, theoretically anyway, keep the team in SacTown. Details of the offer were not announced but it is led by Ron Burkle of Oracle fame and Mark Mastrov of 24-Hour Fitness fame. I can see it now; the Kings new practice facility will be the local 24-Hour Fitness gym near you. Think of the money they'll save and the wonderful product placement opportunity for Mastrov! This deal is a no-brainer, right?
The offer is 'competitive' according to Johnson, but less than the offer from the Hansen/Ballmer group. It's odd that a ownership group stepping forward at the 11th hour would bid less then the existing offer, making it all the more baffling. If they wanted to really help their cause, wouldn't they bid more? Maybe KJ is gonna kick in some of that parking meter money.
The next step is the NBA BOG's approval voting in April - they'll either approve the Hansen/Ballmer offer and move forward with the relocation, or they'll reject it. Rejection seems highly unlikely. A $30 million dollar deposit has been paid out, thus making their sale legit and approval likely a mere formality. It would be unthinkable that the deal would get stuck on a contract formality that went unnoticed as these guys have all the legal resources in the world to ensure that doesn't happen.
It's my understanding that the 'right of first refusal' claim, that minority owners are suggesting could negate the sale, could be rendered null and void by an ownership of 65% or more of the team - which the Ballmer/Hansen group would have according to the terms of the deal. That could get tricky, or it could be crystal clear in the deal terms, which I am not privy to.
I cannot imagine a scenario where the BOG rejects the sale. If that happened I believe Ballmer/Hansen would sue the NBA and challenge their legal authority to veto a binding and legal sale. This then turns into an anti-trust lawsuit and the NBA cannot have that played out in court, as they likely cannot win. Like most major sports leagues, they basically are a monopoly. That's why every year when the leagues strike and it's the labor unions vs. the league, the labor union always threatens to disband and sue the leagues under anti-trust laws. The issues always miraculously get resolved when that card gets played.
Lastly, the Maloofs are under no obligation whatsoever to sell the team to anyone other than whom they want to. They own it, it's theirs to do with how they please, as long as it is law-abiding. I just don't see a situation where Sacramento keeps the Kings. It's all against them at this point, and anything can happen, we've all seen Laettner's shot that beat Kentucky, so it's possible, but that's pretty much what it's going to take now.
It's likely too little too late.