Don’t count on the rebirth of the SuperSonics just yet

SUNDAY, JAN. 13, 2013

SEATTLE – Two potential new complications emerged Saturday in relation to the possible sale of the Sacramento Kings to a group that would relocate them to Seattle.

One was reported Saturday afternoon by the Sacramento Bee about a group eager to buy the team and build a $400 million arena on the site of a troubled shopping center in Sacramento, which the newspaper described as “a stunning new twist.”

The other was related to the current owners wanting to retain a voice in how the team is run and using as leverage lawsuits and a threat to relocate the team on their own.

Neither report, though, could be confirmed – each was based on anonymous sources – leaving it difficult to determine exactly where things stand.

If nothing else, the new stories seemed to indicate that the issue is far more complicated than was portrayed earlier in the week, when one report characterized the sale of the Kings to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen as being so close that it was “first-and-goal at the 1.”

The Bee story Saturday marked the third report in two days of a potential Sacramento-area group or person interested in buying the team and keeping it there.

All of the reports have come since news broke Wednesday that the team’s current owners, the Maloof family, was in talks with Hansen’s group on a sale of the franchise for at least $500 million – which would be the most in NBA history.

After those reports emerged, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said he would avidly search for potential local buyers who would keep the team in Sacramento.

Various media reports Friday identified two potential buyers – Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24-Hour Fitness, and Dale Carlsen, of Sleep Train Mattress Centers Inc.

The identity of the latest potential buyer was not identified, though it was characterized by the Bee as including “deep-pocket investors who have the ability to pull the deal together.”

Sacramento officials say one factor on their side is that local owners would not have to pay a relocation fee – which would likely be at least $30 million – or pay off a $77 million outstanding loan the Maloofs have with the city.

That would allow a local group to pay less than the $500 million to $525 million that reports have said Hansen’s group - which also includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer - has offered.

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