More than a month after Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was mentioned as a possible savior to keep the Sacramento Kings basketball team from moving to Seattle, the multi-billionaire’s name seems to have dropped out of the discussion.
Last night, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced that the city’s best hope for keeping the team in town was with grocery tycoon Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov. The two have submited a bid to buy the Kings and build an arena in downtown Sacramento.
Their bid, which is expected to be forwarded to the NBA today, is a counter offer to one earlier submitted by Seattle hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. That pair have an agreement to acquire the majority interest in the team, which is controlled by the Maloof family.
If the NBA rejects the Hansen-Ballmer bid, the one from Burkle and Mastrov would then be on the table, significantly increasing the likelihood of the team remaining in Sacramento.
On Jan. 25, minority owner Bob Cook said he’d asked a sports attorney friend to contact Ellison about possibly buying a chunk of the team. But Oracle has declined to discuss the overture, and since then there’s been no indication from sources involved with the Kings that he could become an investor.