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Tom Gores, Pistons remain in sale talks | detnews.com | The Detroit News

Tom Gores, Pistons remain in sale talks

Gregg Krupa and Vincent Goodwill / The Detroit News

An agreement between Karen Davidson and Tom Gores for the purchase of the Pistons is close, according to sources familiar with the process.

But, they say, close is relative.

Despite long silences in recent weeks, the sources told The Detroit News the process is advancing. The sides continue to talk, and believe they are nearing an agreement.

But while there is some possibility a deal could be reached in time for the last NBA Board of Governors meetings this season, beginning Thursday, April 14, the sources say it is unlikely.

Perhaps more probable, they say, is the process stretching into summer, maybe even autumn.

That means the NBA likely will not approve the sale until at least the next scheduled Board of Governors meeting in October.

But both sides continue to expect a deal will emerge, and that Davidson will, in fact, sell the team, The Palace and Palace Sports & Entertainment to Gores.

How can something be both "close" and yet potentially anywhere from a week to several months from occurring?

"It's the complex nature of the deal," a person close to the negotiations said Wednesday. "People of the best intentions are saying, 'How can this possibly be taking so long?' The best answer, simply, is: It just does.

"There is no agreement in place. It might happen more quickly, but it also could take a while. That said? We still think we'll get there."

A factor encouraging such confidence is that while the labor strife between owners and players is complicating negotiations, it is not a deal breaker.

With appropriate safeguards built into the agreement, Gores would be comfortable owning the team heading into what many experts believe could be a lengthy lockout beginning in the fall. Moreover, people on Davidson's side of the talks do not believe Gores is stalling until the labor situation is clearer.

But will the lockout occur? And if so, will it interrupt only training camps, part of the season or the entire season?

Gores likely must prepare for all possibilities, or any agreement would make little sense.

Meanwhile, labor discord is but one of the problems involving multiple scenarios both sides must address, and about which Gores is diligent as the discussions continue.

"In contemplating what is occurring right now in the NBA, the universe of possibilities is considerably broader than at other recent times in the history of this league," someone familiar with the negotiations said. "The amount of work that normally goes into buying a sports franchise is probably not much greater than in most big business deals. It's probably a little bit less than in most, frankly.

"But, obviously, these are unusual times, and that is making everyone impatient."

Another source said: "It would have been better, if this process was not quite so public from the start. With all of the leaks, people keep wondering what's going on. But a lot of times, with deals like this, all of this stuff has happened in private before anyone even knows a potential buyer is in place. That did not happen, this time, for various reasons.

"But everyone just needs to be patient and take some deep breaths. Just because things are close doesn't mean it won't take some more time, yet."

CBS Sports reported Wednesday the Board of Governors "is expected to vote on the proposed sale to billionaire Tom Gores" at the meetings next week.

But while the status of the negotiations may be discussed at the meeting, the actual sale is unlikely to be considered.

People familiar with the process of approving the sale of an NBA franchise say that for the Board of Governors to approve of a sale, the parties likely would have signed off on an agreement by now and hundreds of pages of documents detailing the deal would be in the hands of the league and owners.

No such preparations are in place, the sources said.

With a sale looming for eight months, during negotiations with both Gores and Ilitch Holdings Inc., the company owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch and their family, the other NBA owners might inquire about the status of the franchise in Detroit.

While nothing is currently on the agenda, the Board of Governors is slated to discuss the ownership of another franchise.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA guard, will discuss efforts to keep the Kings in the city instead of allowing them to move to Anaheim.

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Thanks Karen. Send us through another off-season with no ownership so we can't make the changes/trades we need .

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