The saga of the Sacramento Kings continues to grow.
On Friday, the third richest man in America entered the picture, and according to a Kings minority owner Bob Cook, Larry Ellison will meet with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to discuss the Kings' future, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The software tycoon, who is worth about $41 billion, previously had tried to purchase the Golden State Warriors. He is the kind of investor that Johnson has been recruiting in an effort to thwart the Maloof family from selling the Kings to a Seattle-based group, which would move the team to the Northwest.
"Out of respect for the private nature of these conversations, we are not commenting on any of the ongoing discussions with potential equity partners, real or imagined," the mayor's office told the Bee.
On Thursday, another potential buyer met with NBA Commissioner David Stern in New York. Ron Burkle, supermarket mogul and part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, met with Stern for approximately two hours to discuss the Kings' future.
Burkle wants to convince the NBA to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and along with 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrove, is expected to put together a bid to thwart the Seattle group, which is led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, USA Today reported.
Burkle's goal is simple: Force the NBA into a difficult decision by putting together an arena plan and a bid that's competitive with the bid that the Maloofs already have accepted. The Bee reported Friday that Burkle is a more interested in placing an arena at the site of the city's failing downtown mall rather than the city's preferred site, the abandoned railyards.
Stern's decision to grant Burkle a meeting is seen by Johnson's camp that the deal to sell to the Hansen-Ballmer group is not set in stone. Stern has indicated publicly that he will allow Johnson to make his case to the Board of Governors before they decide on the Seattle bid.
Earlier Thursday, the Maloofs' bid took a hit when a bankruptcy trustee asserted that minority owners have the legal right of first refusal to purchase the team. Minority owner Bob Cook's 7 percent stake in the team is being sold as part of his bankruptcy and the presiding judge has asked for paperwork regarding the Seattle sale.
The Board of Governors will meet April 18.