"We have a city and a community that have done every single thing that is required," Johnson said. "I hope Seattle gets another team. They deserve another team. They didn't deserve to lose a team in the first place. It just won't be the Sacramento Kings if we have anything to do with it."
The Maloofs backed out of a tentative $391 million deal for a new downtown arena with Sacramento last April, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate. The Kings said the deal didn't make financial sense for the franchise.
In 2011, the Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim before Johnson convinced NBA owners at a meeting in New York to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena. That pitch bought Sacramento time, before the brokered deal between the city and the Maloofs — negotiated by Stern and league lawyers — fell apart last year.
Johnson said the Maloofs could still "participate in some way" in the new local ownership group "if they want to remain a part of this team and this community."
The mayor called the potential $500 million to $525 million price tag for the Kings an "outrageous number." He admits potential buyers he could pull together in Sacramento will not top that figure, but he also doesn't believe it has to.
Johnson said the Maloof family still must repay a $77 million loan to the city and other lenders if they leave. There also could be a potential relocation fee from the NBA that new owners wouldn't have to pay if the team stayed.
Subtracting those totals and adding the "proven support" Kings fans have shown in the past, Johnson's goal is to line up buyers willing to pay about $400 million to $425 million for the team and argue Sacramento's side to the league.
"We were there two years ago and we prevailed," Johnson said. "We have a very compelling case."