Hawks, Thrashers on block. Who will step up?

8:07 PM, May 17, 2011   |    comments
Toronto defenseman Pavel Kubina (77) tries to stop Thrashers center Jim Slater in the third quarter of their game in Atlanta Mon. Dec. 22. (AP)
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ATLANTA -- With the Hawks and Thrashers out of the post-season, rumors and reports are popping up like weeds about who will buy one or both teams and even possibly Philips Arena.

Tuesday a source with the Atlanta Spirit Group confirmed the Hawks, too, have long been for sale and that John Moores' name had been floating around as a potential buyer for nearly a month.

But key to any deal would be the Hawks staying in Atlanta.

Moores is a San Diego entrepreneur and onetime majority owner of the Padres. But as he and his wife went through a divorce, Moores slashed  player payroll and sold off 49 percent equity to a new group.

In January, Forbes valued the Hawks at $293 million, good enough for 23rd most valuable team in the league.

Meanwhile, a group interested in keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta submitted a term sheet to Thrashers owners, Kevin Allen of USA Today reported Tuesday.

The sheet spells out an offer that Allen categorized as "serious", though well behind one reportedly going on with True North Sports and Entertainment, the group trying to bring hockey back to Winnipeg.

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    Representatives from True North have refused comment on any ongoing negotiations as have members of the Atlanta Spirit Group.

    A source within the Thrashers organization told 11Alive's Jeff Hullinger Monday he was "frustrated but optimistic" about the potential of keeping the team on the ice of Philips Arena.

    Reports and rumors of potential owners have come and gone, involving everyone from Tom Glavine, former player Anson Carter, even Atlanta-based rapper Lil Jon.

    Time is winding down to move the team out of Atlanta in time for next year's season, and it has been reported two drafts have been made of the schedule: one with a team in Atlanta, one with a team in Winnipeg.

    The Legend of the Balkan

    Who is JB Smith? If you ask John Kincade, radio host for 680 The Fan, he would tell you he might just be the guy to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.

    Kincade has talked about a shadowy character called "the Balkan" on his show and on Twitter for weeks. Tuesday, Kincade disclosed via Twitter, "J.B. Smith has been attempting to put together a deal to purchase the Thrashers, Hawks and Philips Arena since early March."

    A source inside the Atlanta Spirit cast doubt that Smith would be a viable candidate in the long run.

    Smith is a venture capitalist, formerly of Equity11 outside Detroit. He was once rumored to be looking at a stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers but that plan never came to fruition.

    USA Today contributed to this report

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