Supposedly, they did have a local buyer lined up. However, the group that bought the Hawks also bought the arena. Or maybe it was the arena was sold to a different group. Doesn't matter, but the new owners of the arena did not want the Thrashers. Wanted to keep the dates open for other events. That is when they realized they had no choice but to sell to True North.
Atlanta Spirit Group owned the Hawks, Thrashers, and the Phillips Arena. Word around Atlanta was what they really wanted was 41 more open arena dates that were not tied to losing money on the Thrashers. So no matter what alternative local ownership group may have come around, they were not going to make it easy to keep the team in the building.