Sports Out West

Sacramento Kings moving to Seattle?: Kevin Johnson focused on counter offer

The NBA assured Mayor Kevin Johnson that Sacramento will have a chance to counter any offer made in the potential sale of the Sacramento Kings franchise, according to the Seattle Times

160x600 - Ayzenberg3 - 201104As the unrest in Northern California mounts, Johnson has been a steady force in his hometown, ensuring that he’s followed through on his promise to do everything in his power to keep the team. 

But growing speculation and reports have the Seattle deal all but finalized and a move out of California a near certainty. Still, the news of the NBA’s assurance that California’s capital city will be given a fair chance to keep their only professional sports franchise gives fans a glimmer of hope. 

If there’s one sign of encouragement among the mountain of despair for Sacramento, it’s the fact that AEG is once again getting involved in assisting Sacramento in an arena project — a welcome sign for any potential investor as the Maloofs have been forced to sell. 

The toughest part of the task for Johnson? Finding a local group willing to put up the would-be record-setting price tag of $525 million that the Seattle-based group is willing to shell out. Sacramento does have some leverage in the situation because it would be able to avoid the over $100 million in relocation and repayment fees any outside group would have to pay. However, the biggest question is whether or not Sacramento has deep enough pocketbooks to compete — even at a discount. 

A new arena is also a must, and in the constant struggle to find funds for any major capital project in California, Sacramento is at another disadvantage. 

Still, Johnson remains steadfast in his approach, saying that his highest priority is to find a local buyer. He disputed the fact that the Seattle group is willing to pay the reported $525 million, calling it “outrageous,” as it would be by far the most ever paid for an NBA franchise. 

Plans for a new arena were approved in Seattle by its City Council, and the project is still undergoing an environmental review process. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.
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