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Sacramento has 'shot' to keep Kings after putting together bid to challenge Seattle group

Adrian Wojnarowski
Yahoo Sports

The proposed bid of 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and billionaire Ron Burkle to purchase the Sacramento Kings and construct a downtown arena has a chance to challenge a Seattle ownership's group to move the franchise.

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Kevin Johnson has helped put together a bid to try to keep the Kings in Sacramento. (AP)

Mastrov and the local investors' bid is "slightly lower," than the $341 million that the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group has agreed to pay for the available 65 percent of the Kings, a high-level source involved in the talks told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday night.

"They have a shot," the source said. "It's still a long shot, but the bid will be close enough to cause real debate."

With a Friday deadline for submitting a counter bid to the NBA to attempt to keep the Kings from moving, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson unveiled Mastrov as the principal investor in the city's plan to foil the Maloof family's signed agreement to sell to the Seattle group.

Burkle and the city have agreed on a deal to construct a new arena in the city's downtown. Johnson recruited $20 million in local investors to purchase 7 percent of the Kings' ownership stake available in bankruptcy court, as well as $50 million in business sponsorships over the next five years for the franchise.

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Johnson and the ownership group have to convince NBA owners to vote against the ratification of the Maloof-Seattle agreement at the league's April 18 Board of Governors meeting in New York. The NBA has to approve the sale to the Seattle group, as well as the group's bid to relocate the Kings to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

The Seattle group made payment on a $30 million deposit to the Maloofs in late January, sources confirmed. Seattle plans to build an arena for the team for the 2015-16 season, using KeyArena for the next two years to house the team.

The Seattle ownership group – which has been in frequent contact with NBA commissioner David Stern and the league office – has been operating with a belief that it will acquire the franchise and be granted the ability to move it to Seattle, sources told Y! Sports.

The Hansen-Ballmer group has been working to put together the business and basketball sides of the franchise, as well as the finalization of details on its new arena.

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Nevertheless, Johnson was adamant on Thursday night that Sacramento has a plan in place to derail the franchise's move.

"…We are still very much in this game," Johnson said in a speech. "I hope Seattle gets a team someday. Let me be crystal clear: It's not going to be this team. Not our team. No way."

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