So I want to give everybody here a little bit of an idea what I am expecting and what I am looking for out of potential news next week.For starters it has been confirmed that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will be rolling out his new potential ownership group next week. When this announcement comes I think the relevant points will be what names are on the list and to what degree they indicate commitment.
Larry Ellison is the name to watch. If his name is on the list it certainly becomes a game changer because he brings the wealth dynamics to a whole new level. Ellison has made no secret of his desire to own an NBA franchise and tried to buy the Warriors. Maybe he will see this as his only real chance and decide he is going to go toe to toe with Ballmer in a bidding war.
Some rumblings of Ellison's involvement have been going on but none of them have been substantiated beyond message board gossip in any way. It is most likely that he will not be involved in this group.
Assuming he is not part of the group and it is some "lesser billionaire" then I think the next step indicator becomes who takes the leadership mantel and how clearly they state their willingness to go the distance. Are they cautious about offering results? Do they hedge their bets on franchise value?
Probably the worst case scenario for Sacramento would be a group that is led by a lesser money investor (say the Sleep Train Founder) indicating their willingness to "participate" in the city's efforts and work with higher net worth billionaires who would prefer to stay unnamed at this time. If that is the case then it indicates that everybody is hedging their bets and nobody wants to go on the record.
It was also reported by KJR's Mitch in the morning that there could be news out of Seattle next week also. If this proves to be the case I would expect there to be some type of measured indication of process more than any big announcement of victory. There I would listen closely to any specific references to contract status, etc. and keep in mind that these guys have nothing to win by engaging in a PR game. Listen with the understanding that they are going to tell you as little as possible, likely in a carefully prepared statement that has been heavily vetted by lawyers. Caution will be the name of the game.
The big challenge here is that it is that all three sides have a vested interest in making it look like they are in control of the situation. The plan they would implement to make it look that way is pretty much exactly the same as it would be if they really were. For example it is STRONGLY in Kevin Johnson's best interest to telegraph a rock solid ownership group ready to buy this team. In doing so he increases his odds that the league gives him attention and also establishes more firmly his position that he was ready to go and the Maloofs are the bad guys.
The NBA learned a lot from the last go-around. They will be just as comfortable as Kevin Johnson is making sure that the Maloofs look like the bad guys. That potentially allows them to get this behind them in a way that sets Sacramento up for future franchise bidding without the animosity that built up during the poorly executed Seattle situation.
He would be doing the exact same thing publicly whether he has a rock solid ownership group or a tentative one. He has no choice but to roll out in confidence and has his own media people working to support that image.
So it is going to be really difficult to read much into the things they say. I would advise you to follow any news closely and really make an early effort to react to what is said, not what commentators speculate about what is said or about what other fans read into the comments. That applies to both sides.
Sacramento has great fans and a great mayor. I fully expect both of them to fight and respect them for doing so. Lets trust Chris.