Is Burkle still an option?

Over the last few weeks, we have seen so many twists and turns in the Sacramento Kings relocation saga that you can only wonder what is next.  Often the most interesting parts, as this story has unfolded, has been the value of small details.  Thrown into yesterday’s story regarding the meeting between Sacramento business owners, Mayor Kevin Johnson and the NBA’s Team Marketing and Business Operations (TMBO), there was a morsel of information that could easily be overlooked:

There are four people that were very instrumental in helping all of this take place, Sharon Gerber who you heard from earlier, Darius Anderson, Warren Smith is here and last is Matt Mahood representing the Metro chamber.

Wait a second, Darius Anderson?  The same Darius Anderson who is associated with billionaire Ron Burkle?  What is that guy doing in the room with the NBA’s financial front line?  The crack team of Sacramento Bee reporters who have been covering this situation from the outset, chimed in:

Anderson, who is well-known in political circles, has worked closely with Johnson and Councilman Rob Fong in recent weeks and was at the center of the fundraising effort that put together the corporate pledges.

Well, thanks to our friend Sam Amick over at SI.com, we now have another wrinkle to report.  The day before Tuesday’s meeting with the NBA, Mayor Kevin Johnson made a visit to Los Angeles to check in with Ron Burkle.

And according to two sources in the business meeting Tuesday, Johnson indicated that he met with Burkle in Los Angeles on Monday. The meeting was confirmed by a third source close to the situation, giving a clear indication that the league’s dismissive public comments regarding his involvement should hardly set the tone of the conversation as it pertains to him.

-Sam Amick

Multiple news sources had Clay Bennett, leader of the NBA relocation committee, speaking with both the Maloof family and the Henry Samueli led group down in Anaheim that runs the Honda Center, during a conference call Wednesday afternoon.  Although no specifics have been released from the call, it is thought that Bennett gave the Maloof’s a glimpse into how the relocation committee would be leaning.

Momentum has been going all Sacramento’s way of late, but that doesn’t mean that the Maloof family won’t still file for relocation before next Monday’s deadline.  The real trick will be what happens if they do file and the NBA board of governors shoots them down. In this situation, it would be very difficult to see how the Maloof’s could come back to Sacramento and even if they did, the question has to be asked – how would this decision effect Sacramento’s hopes for a new sports and entertainment facility?

Mayor Johnson has already mystically pulled over $10 million in new corporate sponsorships out of thin air.  Is it possible that KJ might be able to pull off the impossible and deliver financial giant Ron Burkle as well?  Would Burkle pave the way to building a new sports and entertainment facility?  There is no telling when this roller coaster will stop.  For those of you who think it ends when the Maloof’s make their decision sometime between now and Monday, you are sorely mistaken.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.