Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson says he believes the city has a 90 percent chance of winning its effort to buy the Kings and keep the NBA franchise from moving to Seattle.
“I’m very excited. I think we’re going to pull it off. I’m going to say Steve Nash is on the free throw line, a good 90 percent,” Johnson told the nationally syndicated Dan Patrick Show Thursday.
Johnson said at the end of the day, he remains convinced NBA owners don’t want the team to move and the city has done everything it needs to with a billionaire investment group on a deal to buy the team and build a new downtown arena.
“I think the owners, they frown upon moving a team from one city to another. They want to do everything that they can to preserve a team and a market. It’s a death blow to the league.”
Johnson pointed out the only reason owners approved the Sonics move from Seattle to Oklahoma City was because the city and state refused to support a new arena. “That is not the case in Sacramento.”
Johnson’s comments are just the latest in his aggressive campaign to thwart investor Chris Hansen’s efforts to buy the Kings from the Maloof family, majority owners of the franchise, and build a new arena in Seattle.
Hansen agreed Wednesday to buy an additional seven percent share of the Kings from minority owner Bob Cook in bankruptcy court, after previously signing a deal to buy the Maloofs’ 65 percent share of the team for a reported $340 million, based on a valuation of $525 million.
While Hansen remains silenced by an NBA-mandated gag order preventing him from commenting, Johnson has no such restrictions. He said Wednesday that Sacramento knew Hansen’s latest bid was coming and, “we are going to respond. We do have a plan.”
Johnson reiterated his latest tactic in the ongoing battle with Seattle, a campaign to sign up 10,000 season-ticket holders for the Kings. He told Patrick he already has 7,500 on board.
“So we feel very comfortable and confident about our market and this team and this love affair between this city and the NBA is very strong and powerful.”
Both Sacramento and Seattle will make their case before NBA owners April 3. The owners are expected to ultimately decide whether to approve the sale to Hansen or block it and pave the way for the Sacramento group to buy the team at their annual meetings April 18 or 19.