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Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson announces plan to keep Kings in town 03.01.13 at 9:30 am ET
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Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA player) Kevin Johnson announced his plan to keep the Kings in Sacramento on Thursday. (AP)

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson announced Thursday that two investors are prepared to buy the Kings and build a new arena for them in Sacramento, and that the bid will be submitted to the NBA on Friday.

Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, is the investor hoping to buy the team and prevent it from moving to Seattle. Ron Burkle, the co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, will lead the effort to build a new downtown arena that will increase the Kings’ chances of staying in town, Johnson said.

“With all due respect to Seattle, I do hope they get a team someday, but let me be perfectly clear, it is not going to be this team,” said Johnson, a former NBA All-Star. “Not our team. No way.”

Johnson has rallied local support for the Kings over the last few months, with 20 local investors each committing $1 million. Those investors, including former Kings star Mitch Richmond, aim to buy the 7 percent share of the team that is under control of a federal bankruptcy court.

“He will undoubtedly bring credibility to our efforts,” Johnson said of Richmond.

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Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson vows to fight to keep NBA’s Kings from moving to Seattle 01.23.13 at 9:44 am ET
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Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA player) Kevin Johnson remains committed to keeping the Kings. (AP)

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson warned Seattle basketball fans not to celebrate the return of their SuperSonics just yet, because he and a group of Sacramento investors are aiming to make a counteroffer to the offer from the group that intends to move the Kings to Seattle.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Johnson announced that 19 local investors had pledged to contribute at least $1 million to the bid to keep the Kings in town, and a 20th reportedly joined in later in the day.

“Let me be very clear,” Johnson said to the crowd gathered in the lobby of Sacramento City Hall. “We are going to do everything that we can to create an environment where we can keep what’s ours, our team, here in Sacramento.”

In addition to those 20 local investors, Ron Burkle, the billionaire owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins who helped keep them from moving to Kansas City, and Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, have also reportedly expressed interest in the Kings. According to The Sacramento Bee, city officials are calling them a potential ownership “dream team”.

Johnson, who played in the NBA for 12 years as a point guard, mostly with Phoenix, said he hopes to present a plan to the NBA Board of Governors in April when they meet to decide whether to sell the Kings to the Seattle-based group led by Chris Hansen.

Sacramento managed to keep the Kings from moving to Anaheim in 2011. Michael McCann, a sports law expert at the University of New Hampshire and a legal analyst for NBA TV, told the Seattle Times it’s unlikely, but not impossible, that the Kings will stay in Sacramento this time.

“I think that the odds are very high that the Kings will be moving to Seattle,” McCann said Tuesday. “I think clearly there is an agreement between the relevant parties in terms of Hansen and the Maloofs [current controlling owners of the Kings] to make that happen. I also think there seems to be support from other NBA officials and owners, that this is going to be OK with them. So it seems like it’s well set up for succeeding. But it’s not a done deal, and Kevin Johnson, if there is a mayor out there that has influence in the NBA, none have more than Kevin Johnson.”

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David Stern says NBA contraction is a possibility 08.15.11 at 1:38 pm ET
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In an ESPN podcast over the weekend, NBA commissioner David Stern said the league is open to contraction as a way to increase the league’s profitability, which has been a sticking point in the collective bargaining negotiations and lockout.

“When you talk about revenue sharing, a number of teams have said that if you have a team that is perpetually going to be a recipient, aren’t you better off with the ability to buy them in?” Stern said. “Because between the revenue sharing and the split of international and the TV money, we could almost buy them in with their own money.”

Stern said “players actually have been heard to suggest that as well,” but added that “if you look for volunteers, there aren’t many teams raising their hand.”

Stern would not name specific teams that might face contraction, defending the Hornets, Kings and Bobcats, three teams that for various reasons (NBA ownership of the Hornets, struggling ownership and failed move to Anaheim by the Kings, lack of profit by the Bobcats) would be likely candidates for contraction.

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