Larry Ellison The Latest Figure To Emerge As Potential Local Buyer For NBA Kings
NBA Kings investor Bob Cook said that Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison is "expected to meet soon" with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson about the potential of keeping the franchise from moving to Seattle, according to a front-page piece by Bizjak, Kasler & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. With Cook "complaining" that the Maloof family has "improperly shut limited partners out of the bidding, Ellison's potential interest in the team ramps up the drama even higher." Ellison is "worth $41 billion and was an unsuccessful bidder" for the Warriors in '10. If he does bid, Ellison "apparently would be operating independently of the potential partnership" between Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle and 24-Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov. The possible "emergence of Ellison could further complicate the Maloofs' efforts to complete their deal with the Seattle group, led by" hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The Maloofs are "already running into interference from their own limited partners, including Cook." David Flemmer, a bankruptcy trustee who "controls Cook's 7 percent share of the team, said Thursday the limited partners are being denied their legal rights to match the Seattle offer." Don Fitzgerald, Flemmer's lawyer, said that litigation "is possible over the issue." Flemmer said that he "thinks the minority owners have 'first right of refusal' to buy the Maloofs' controlling interest" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/25).
EXPAND, DON'T RELOCATE: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes if Johnson "secures a deep-pockets ownership group to purchase majority interest in the Kings ... the NBA's Board of Governors needs to revisit its anti-expansion sentiment." Voisin: "Leave the Kings alone and allow Sonics fans to start over from the beginning." That would be the "most civil outcome and would seem to make the most sense, except NBA Commissioner David Stern and his owners are adamantly opposed to expansion because of economic concerns" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/25).