According to reports from ESPN and the Associated Press, the Seattle group interested in buying the Sacramento Kings has filed relocation paperwork to the NBA.
League Commissioner David Stern calls the group, led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, “very strong.”
Of course, this isn’t exactly a nail in the coffin for Sacramento basketball.
Stern acknowledged that Mayor Kevin Johnson would make his case in front of the NBA Board of Governors at the upcoming All-Star game.
Johnson has been able to gather more than 20 millionaires to pledge $1 million, but has yet to reveal majority, “whale” investors. Those investors have been rumored to be business magnate Ron Burkle and former 24-Hour Fitness owner Mark Mastrov.
Hansen’s group has offered the Maloof family $525 million for the Kings.
Stern added that factors like which city is more likely to have a new arena built and fan support would play into the Board of Governors’ decision.
Wednesday evening, after the news broke, Mayor Johnson issued a statement:
“As we’ve said from the start, Sacramento is playing to win. For 28 years, we’ve proven time and again to be a top NBA market. We are a top 20 media market where the NBA enjoys 100% market share and no competition from pro football, baseball or soccer. We are the state capital of the eighth largest economy in the world, a place where more businesses work to promote a positive image than in any other city in the US outside of Washington, DC. And above all, we know that with an ownership partner committed both to Sacramento and an arena plan already supported by the City and NBA Sacramento is ready to show what a great one-team market can be, should be, and is.”