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Updated Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 07:46 PM

Kevin Johnson says he'll soon announce potential Sacramento buyers of Kings

By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday he will announce soon the identities of the big-pocket investors he is assembling to put together an ownership group that would make a counteroffer for the NBA's Kings.

That announcement could come later this week or next week, he said. Whenever it comes, it will arrive a little later than Johnson initially indicated.

At a news conference in Sacramento on Jan. 22, the day after it was announced that the Maloof family had reached an agreement to sell the team to a group that would relocate them to Seattle, Johnson had said the announcement could come by the end of that week.

Johnson, though, said not to read anything into the delay, saying it is a complicated business deal and that those involved are "doing their due diligence" in attempting to put the bid together.

"I think we're really close," he said, saying the fact that the deal is not together yet is "not a negative by any means," according to The Sacramento Bee.

Johnson is hoping to assemble both an ownership group and an arena plan to rival that of Seattle's.

While the Maloofs and the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen have an agreement on a sale of the team, it must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors. That vote is not expected to happen until mid-April at the annual board of governors meeting in New York.

Johnson hopes to present an ownership group/arena package that would compel the board of governors to deny the sale of the Kings to the Seattle group and instead entice the Maloofs to sell the team to the group that would keep them in Sacramento.

Varying reports have identified the likely big-pocket investors as billionaire Ron Burkle, who also owns the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, and Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness.

Reports indicated that a $30 million deposit from the Hansen group to the Maloofs was due late last week. Neither side, however, has commented on the deposit.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.


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