Earlier this week, Mike Ilitch spoke to the media about the sale of the Detroit Pistons. Although he didn't exactly get into too much detail, he said that things were getting close, indicating a deal to buy the team would be complete soon. As it turns out, however, things may not be as close as they once appeared.
On Thursday, Sports Business Daily reported that Ilitch's exclusive negotiating period with Karen Davidson had ended and that negotiations "had bogged down over price and financing." What's more, the report stated that "previous bidders were being contacted about any ongoing interest they might have." Ilitch is still considered the front-runner in this sale, per the report, but he no longer has an exclusive negotiating agreement.
So what should we make of this news? On the surface the impression given off is that things are cooling between Davidson and Ilitch and the sale isn't moving forward. That's not necessarily what has happened, though. This could simply be a negotiating technique, which seems very possible based on The Detroit News' report on this story:
A source with knowledge of the negotiations said while the Ilitches were originally the highest bidder, they reduced the offer. Davidson and Citibank then decided to reopen the process to allow other bidders to negotiate again.
Speculation suggests that all of this could just be part of the negotiating process as it moves forward. Ilitch reportedly lowered his offer and Davidson responded by contacting previous bidders to see if they were still interested in purchasing the team.
One of those previous bidders is Tom Gores, who attended Friday night's Pistons-Clippers game at the Staples Center. He sat next to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who said that Gores "wants to buy the Pistons." Gores declined to comment about the sale of the Pistons, but he did say this:
Gores was asked about the status of the Pistons sale and he said: "I can't tell you anything about that, but I can tell you that I'm a big fan and would I love to own the team? Absolutely.
"I will tell you this. I think Mike Ilitch has been great to the Detroit community. If he's able to buy the Pistons, then I'd love to be talking to Mike.
NBA commissioner David Stern hoped that the sale of the Pistons would move toward being completed sometime this month. While this recent news could mean that things are moving backward, it could also mean that the negotiations are progressing. Much of this does seem like a negotiating technique, but I guess we will just have to wait and see how things play out.