POSTED: Apr 12, 2013 5:58 PM ET
A source with direct knowledge of the negotiations said that the Maloof family would be willing to give a group of investors looking to keep the Sacramento Kings in that city additional time, as late as through this weekend, to deliver a written matching proposal to the $341 million binding offer that the family received in January from a Seattle-based group that wants to move the Kings there next season.
The Maloofs had been unwilling to make any deal with local investors who wanted to keep the team in Sacramento. But the family is now willing to sign a deal with the Sacramento group that would be an acceptable backup plan if the NBA rejects the sale of the team to the Seattle group, led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The match, the source said, would have to include the same $30 million non-refundable deposit that Hansen's group made as part of its offer to buy 65 percent of the Kings from the Maloofs. That would mean a franchise valuation of $525 million.
And the match would still be viewed by the Maloofs as a backup plan to the Seattle deal, which the family still prefers to execute. The Maloofs would accept the Sacramento plan only if the NBA's Board of Governors rejects the Seattle offer at next week's meeting.
The Maloofs "have to have something done by this weekend," the source said. "Next week is the Board of Governors. If Sacramento doesn't have an acceptable offer (before then), they're done."
Several media outlets have reported that the Sacramento group informed the NBA at last week's meeting of the combined relocation and finance committees that it would match the Hansen offer. Another source said Friday that the match would include the $30 million nonrefundable deposit.
The Sacramento group, now led by Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive, has shifted in recent days, with supermarket magnate Ron Burkle leaving the group after a potential conflict of interest with one of Burkle's holdings was discovered.
This week, former Facebook executive Chris Kelly and Sacramento developer Mark Friedman were named as new investors for the Sacramento bid, joining 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and Ranadive, who would be the NBA's first owner of Indian decent.
Burkle will still try to develop the land around the proposed new arena in Sacramento, but will no longer be involved in the potential purchase of the Kings or construction of the arena.
There will be an additional two days of meetings in New York early next week before the official April 18-19 BOG meeting.
After the committee meetings last week, NBA Commissioner David Stern said that a decision might not be made at the official BOG meeting, given the incredible complexity of both cities' bids. Each city has pledged to build a new arena for the Kings, which many believe will be the ultimate determining factor in the owners' decision.
A 3/4 majority, or 23 of the league's 30 owners, are required to approve the sale of the team, meaning eight "no" votes would scuttle the deal. If the sale to the Hansen group is approved, a simple majority of the owners would be required to approve a move of the team to Seattle.
Both cities continued to clear the road on Friday toward getting their arena deals up and going.
Sacramento announced it was officially beginning the yearlong environmental impact review as is usually required under the California Environmental Quality Act for major projects, including the proposed $447 million arena that would be built for the Kings on the city's current Downtown Plaza site. After that process is completed, any objections to the review would have to be expedited within 175 days of the completion of the review.
In Seattle, a judge dismissed a lawsuit that had been filed against the proposed $491 million arena that Hansen has proposed to build in the city's South of Downtown area. The lawsuit alleged that the arena violated the state's Initiative 91, which requires that any new arena deal be profitable for the city. The judge said that she could not rule on whether the proposed arena violated Initiative 91 until Seattle's own environmental impact study, which should be completed in November, was finalized.