Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said this morning that the city of Sacramento is “holding our breath,” in anticipation of the NBA Board of Governors meeting Wednesday in Dallas.
But in an impromptu press conference shortly before he boarded his flight he also expressed confidence, saying “we are hoping the outcome will be positive. So we are excited.”
Johnson said he and Vivek Ranadive will represent Sacramento tomorrow when the city makes a final pitch to keep the Kings. The NBA BOG will vote whether to approve a sale of the team to a group that would move them to Seattle, or deny it and force the team to stay put.
While the team’s current owners, the Maloof family, have repeatedly stated they wish to complete the deal with the Seattle group, Johnson noted today that the family has been negotiating with Sacramento.
“I think at the end of the day, if the Maloofs had not accepted a backup offer we would be dead in the water,” he said. “And they allowed a backup offer to be submitted and that’s kept us in the ballgame. … they could have shut the door and slammed the door on us a long time ago.”
Johnson, however, wouldn’t directly answer the question of whether the Sacramento ownership group has put 100 percent of its $341 million offer into escrow, as the Maloofs have reportedly encouraged.
“They told us last week we need to have 50 percent in escrow (and that was done) and now we are told we needed to have 100 percent in escrow,” he said. “You may as well make an assumption on your own.”
Johnson also said he did not think the recent move by the Seattle group to raise its offer to a total valuation of $625 million, compared to the original offer of $525 million, will matter.
“We have been told by the NBA early on this would not be a bidding war,” he said. “. … I don’t think it’s going to go to the highest bidder and I never believed that. We respected the process that was laid out and we are going to abide by it.”
Asked what his role would be in Dallas, Johnson said he’s “got to get my argument out. This is a huge opportunity for Sacramento and I am going to state our case in a real way.”