The whale watch may soon be coming to an end.
Sam Amick of USA Today reports that of five potential owners that could be in play as the large equity partner the city of Sacramento are targeting, two may join forces: Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov.
Burkle of course is the billionaire grocery tycoon who expressed an interest in purchasing the Kings back in 2011 when it appeared they were heading to Anaheim. Of course, the Maloofs vehemently denied the team was for sale. Burkle's net worth is estimated to be around $3 billion.
Mastrov has come up in recent reports as being interested in the Kings. The founder of 24 Hour Fitness, Mastrov was the runner-up in the Golden State Warriors sale, reportedly bidding $350 million. Mastrov's net worth isn't publicly known, and while one website pegs it at about $350 million, he did sell 24 Hour Fitness for $1.7 billion in 2005.
The fact that these two men would be willing to join forces is very good news. The deal the Hansen-Ballmer group has with the Maloofs is for 65% of the team at a valuation of $525 million. That's about $341 million going to the Maloofs for their 51%. With Mastrov and Burkle potentially teaming up, it is much likelier Sacramento is able to put together an offer that can match or exceed that.
Amick also notes that Burkle is focused on a potential downtown arena project at the Downtown Plaza site. Personally, I'm a bit unsure if the Mayor's office would be willing to change arena plans so late in the game, especially when the one at the railyards is intimately known by the NBA, as they themselves helped construct it.
Furthermore, Sam reports that David Stern has indeed told Mayor Johnson that he has a chance to save the Kings if he can come up with the funds:
Kevin Johson has been told by commissioner David Stern that he still has a chance to save his team if he can provide the funds to compete with the Seattle offer as well as a viable arena plan and present both to the Board of Governors.
Earlier today the Mayor unveiled the first part of his plan with 19 (now 20) local investors who were willing to put in $1 million each into a potential bid to keep the team here. Johnson confirmed the team was in negotiations with several potential large equity partners, and that he hoped to have an announcement by the end of the week.
With this latest report, that announcement may come sooner than we think.