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Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 01:03 PM

Report: Mark Mastrov met Monday with Sacramento group trying to buy Kings

By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is expected to announce sometime this week the identity of the major equity investors willing to attempt to purchase the NBA Kings.

And in another sign that Mark Mastrov may be among those buyers, Mastrov reportedly met Monday in Sacramento with some of the local business leaders who have pledged to become limited partners at $1 million each.

The Sacramento Bee portrayed the meeting as indicating how serious Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, is in being part of a group that would make a counteroffer to the tentative agreement reached last week between the team's current owners, the Maloof family, and a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen. Hansen's group, which includes Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, has reportedly pledged $340 million for 65 percent of the team (at a total valuation of $525 million).

That sale, however, still has to be approved by the NBA's Board of Governors, as does relocating the team to Seattle. Johnson is attempting to assemble a group that would present a competitive offer and convince the NBA not to approve the Maloof/Hansen deal, potentially forcing a sale to the Sacramento group. The Sacramento group also has to come up with a viable arena plan.

Mastrov attempted to buy the Golden State Warriors in 2010 and according to the Bee "is in serious discussions with billionaire Ron Burkle on teaming up on a bid to purchase the Kings and keep them in Sacramento." The Bee also reports that "the pair has also discussed partnering on a plan to help build a new downtown sports arena."

Johnson said last week he anticipated naming the major investors this week.

The team will have to apply for relocation by March 1, with the NBA Board of Governors expected to vote on the sale in mid-April.

However, another important date in the process comes Thursday when, according to several reports, Hansen's group must give the Maloofs a nonrefundable deposit of $30 million.

Michael McCann, an on-air legal analyst for NBA TV, said Monday it's hard to know exactly how meaningful the deposit is without seeing the exact terms of the sales agreement.

But he said one possibility is that it could preclude the Maloofs from seeking other bidders. He also said it could factor into damages if the sale is not approved and there is future legal action.

"There could be an argument made (once the deposit is made) that there is now an existing business relationship between (the Maloofs and Hansen) and that would be interfered with by rejecting the bid," McCann said.


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