Mayor Kevin Johnson courtside with former Kings' minority owner Bob Cook (Photo: Steven Chea)

With the clock ticking on the NBA’s Mar. 1 relocation deadline, Kevin Johnson is putting all his energy into assembling a team of local investors to bid on the Sacramento Kings.  The Sacramento Bee reports that the mayor is expecting to announce a list of local owners sometime next week.

That recruitment process has been among Mayor Kevin Johnson’s priorities this week, said Jeff Dorso, who is leading the mayor’s Think Big arena task force.

Dorso said those local partners are expected to be organized and their names revealed next week.

Developer David Taylor and Sleep Train CEO Dale Carlsen are two of the bigger names who’ve expressed interest in participating in a local ownership group.  Last year, Taylor was set to lead the project to build a downtown arena at the Sacramento railyards.  Carlsen’s Rocklin-based mattress company recently purchased the naming rights to the arena in Natomas.

The mayor announced Tuesday that the league has allowed Sacramento an opportunity to present a counteroffer for the Kings by a group of Seattle-based investors.  Johnson was originally scheduled to speak at the United States Conference of Mayors’ 81st Winter Meeting.  However, Johnson decided to cancel his trip to Washington DC as he’s ramped up efforts to recruit local investors.

Yesterday, NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters in London that no formal agreement to sell the Kings to an ownership group led by hedgefund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been submitted to the league office.  He did, however, say that the NBA has had conversations with Hansen and Seattle Mayor Mike McMGinn about bringing pro basketball back to the Pacific Northwest.