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More twists, potential roadblocks emerge in Sacramento Kings saga

A Sacramento lawyer insisted Thursday the minority owners of the Kings have the first right of refusal to buy the team, while new reports say Billionaire Larry Ellison is now interested in helping keep the team in Sacramento. (AP image)

The twists and turns of the Sacramento Kings saga continued Thursday, as a minority owner insisted his group has right of first refusal to match an offer for the team, while reports late afternoon claimed Billionaire Larry Ellison, one of the world’s richest men, is now potentially getting in the mix

The Sacramento Bee reports trustee David Flemmer, who controls 7 percent of the team, says the teams minority owners “are being denied their legal right to match a Seattle investment group’s purchase offer for the team.”

Flemmer is overseeing the 7 percent share of the Kings owned by minority owner Bob Cook. He told the Bee the limited partners are guaranteed the “first right of refusal” to buy the Kings in their agreements with the Maloofs.

NBA insider Aaron Bruski with NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk reported Wednesday the site “can confirm that the 1991 Kings agreement contains a right of first refusal for minority owners.”

Spokespeople for both the Maloofs and Hansen declined to comment Thursday. But the Bee said a source close to the Maloofs recently told them the family doesn’t believe the minority owners have rights to match an offer for their 65 percent majority share of the team.

The Bee said Flemmer plans to “assert the limited partner’s rights” at a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Sacramento. But he wouldn’t discuss his legal strategy.

There is precedent. Former NBA great Michael Jordan executed his first right of refusal as a minority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats to purchase the majority share of the team in 2010.

Meantime, Cook also told The Sacramento Bee Thursday he’s asked a Bay Area sports attorney to set up a meeting with Ellison, the Oracle founder, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. He said he believes a meeting will happen toward the end of this week.

Ellison lost out in a bid to buy the NBA’s Golden State Warriors two years ago. Numerous reports said while the billionaire outbid the ultimate winners, his final offer was rejected because it came in too late.

Neither Johnson nor representatives for Ellison would comment.

Johnson has said he hopes to announce several major equity partners by the end of next week to lead an effort to counter Hansen’s deal with the Maloofs.

Hansen and the NBA announced earlier this week an agreement on the sale of the majority stake in the Kings. The deal reportedly values the team at $525 million, with Hansen paying an estimated $340 million to buy controlling interest in the franchise.

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