With his company name already on the Warriors' arena, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison might as well write the check today and be done with it, some say.
But Ellison apparently isn't the only one eyeing the NBA franchise, which majority owner Chris Cohan on Monday announced was up for sale. The word is there could be as many as six interested parties, including 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov.
Of course, it all comes down to the numbers, and not just on the court. Warriors representatives have declined to comment on the possible sale until a deal is struck. But sources say Cohan might be seeking more than $400 million, maybe even $500 million, disregarding the team's poor on-court performance and the recession, and possibly making for the largest NBA transaction in history.
Regardless of the technicalities, faithful Warriors fans — generally steadfast despite only one trip to the playoffs since 1994 — as well as Oakland officials and even Warriors coach Don Nelson are intrigued at the thought of a new owner.
"(Working with Cohan) has been very good," Nelson said. "I don't really talk basketball to him. But when I see him in the workout room I think that he's just been a wonderful guy. "... He's been good to me."
Even so, an Ellison ownership "would be great," Nelson added. "I don't know him, but I read he does have an interest in the team. Got to be a great competitor to win the (America's Cup), so that would be great. I think (the Warriors franchise) is one of the best in the league. Unbelievable franchise. If I had enough money, I'd buy it."
Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, a member of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority board of commissioners, which controls the Coliseum complex, said, "I think this is positive in the sense that a new owner may bring a different attitude, a different energy. Ellison, for instance, would certainly have the capacity to spend more money and go out and get the best players.
"A lot of us are hoping it's ultimately Larry Ellison. We know of his love for basketball. He has the naming rights on the arena. It would make a lot of sense for him to acquire the team."
One drawback is the possibility of a new owner moving the team to another city, perhaps San Francisco. But Reid said that wouldn't be easy to do.
"Any new owner would have to abide by the Warriors' agreement with the Coliseum authority, which runs to 2027," he said. "So a change in ownership is not a concern to the city as far as them picking up and leaving. They'd have to break the contract and pay us for it."
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, chairman of the Coliseum authority board, agreed that the team needs to stay in Oakland.
"I hope the new owner realizes that, even though the team hasn't had many wins lately, the fans continue to pack the house," he said. "There's a really strong, supportive fan base in the East Bay, so I would certainly hope the team would stay here at the arena."
Bidding on the team could begin immediately, but that doesn't mean a deal will go through soon.
According to one team source, "A sale may not happen right away. I could see Cohan holding out until he gets his price."
And that price might be too rich for many, even Ellison. It was reported that he valued the team at about $315 million and told financial analysts in late January that he was trying to buy the team but said, "Unfortunately you can't have a hostile takeover of a basketball team."
Last week, the NBA board of governors approved Michael Jordan's acquisition of the Charlotte Bobcats for roughly $275 million.
A deal for the Warriors could surpass the NBA-record $401 million sale of the Phoenix Suns in 2004. Cohan bought the Warriors in 1995 for $119 million.
The Warriors hired Galatioto Sports Partners to handle selling the franchise and serve as the franchise's exclusive financial adviser during the process.
Staff writer Marcus Thompson II and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Fresh face for the franchise?
Larry Ellison:"Oracle CEO said in January that he was interested in buying the team, which he reportedly valued at $315 million.
Chris Cohan:"Sources say the Warriors" majority shareholder for the past 16 years might be seeking in more than $400 million.