SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Kings’ future in Sacramento remained uncertain Friday afternoon amid contrasting reports that the Maloof family has either been in talks with a buyer who would keep the team in town or that the owners have reached an agreement in principle to sell to a group that would move the team to Seattle.
One thing is definite: Hall of Famer Magic Johnson is not part of a bid, NBA.com has learned.
Johnson was a prominent part of the group when California businessman Mark Mastrov made a serious run at the Warriors in 2010. Now, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com is reporting Mastrov has talked to the Maloofs about buying the Kings, quoting Mastrov as saying, “Definitely, there’ve been conversations. Definitely there’s interest in acquiring the team and keeping it in Sacramento.”
The story does not say whether negotiations are in the early stages or at a serious point, or whether the talks are current or have stalled as the Maloofs have by many indications moved close to a sale that would result in the team going to Seattle.
Meanwhile, Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com, citing a source familiar with the negotiations, wrote the Maloof family has struck a deal with the Chris Hansen–Steve Ballmer group as the first major step to filing for relocation before the March 1 deadline to have the Kings in Washington next season. The cost would be approximately $525 million, Steinmetz reported.
There had been no independent confirmation by NBA.com and, as has been the stance all along, no comment from the Kings.
Johnson, with major investments in several business ventures, once owned approximately five percent of the Lakers, before selling in 2010. He was part of the effort to buy the Warriors that same year, before losing out to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, and probably Larry Ellison as well. Johnson has since become a minority owner of the Dodgers, the current source of most of his sports-related energy. He remains a vice president of the Lakers with no day-to-day input.
Johnson and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, former rivals on the court, are friends, though not in regular contact.