The race to buy the Warriors may be down to two.
According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, two groups have separated themselves from the pack with their bids. And owner Chris Cohan, the source said, is even more confident now that his franchise will sell for more than $400 million.
Bay Area News Group had previously reported the field was down to four finalists: a group headed by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison; another led by former 24-Hour Fitness CEO Mark Mastrov; a group headed by Texas-based Wall Street financier David Bonderman; and one that includes Mandalay Entertainment chairman Peter Guber.
If only two groups remain, the winning bidder could be identified by August. The source said the purchase of sale agreements are going through final tweaks that could include increased offers.
The source said the bidders were informed about the Warriors' acquisition of power forward David Lee from the New York Knicks before it was finalized. None of the bidding parties expressed concern, and some liked it, the source said. Friday, the league approved the trade.
Golden State sent forward Anthony Randolph, swingman Kelenna Azubuike and center Ronny Turiaf to New York. In return, the Warriors got Lee, who signed his new contract Friday. It will pay $80 million over the next six years. Lee spurned free-agent opportunities
from New Jersey and Minnesota, among others, for the sign-and-trade.
"I had plenty of options," Lee said in a phone interview. "The biggest thing for me was I'm going to a team that already has Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Anthony Morrow. Young guys who are really good and are still going to get better. Golden State can do special things. We have a chance to make the playoffs right away and get better in the future, grow together."
The prospective owners may like the trade for Lee, but Warriors fans are complaining on the Internet about the move.
Lee said he isn't bothered. He said he knows what he brings to the table and that he's a good fit for the Warriors. And he's dealt with doubters before.
"New York fans are the toughest," Lee said, "and I was a fan favorite. It comes from working hard. The biggest thing for me is I'm going to bring it every night. I'm going to give full effort."
Note: The Warriors tipped off their Summer League schedule in Las Vegas with a 77-76 win over New Orleans. Reggie Williams had a team-high 22 points, and Brandan Wright added 18 points and six rebounds.