HOUSTON – The NBA does not expect legal challenges, whether from minority owners of the Kings or groups in Seattle, to be a serious impediment to a potential move, league sources said Thursday as the debate over the proposed sale and relocation to Washington state moved to All-Star weekend.
While Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has been in constant contact with top NBA officials, he is expected in town as part of lobbying efforts for the daunting task of convincing owners to vote down the sale of the Kings to a Seattle-based group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. Others efforts in the California capital include possible legal action from the minority owners who claim their initial agreement came with a right of first refusal on a purchase if the team is ever put up for sale.
But, sources familiar with the thinking high in the league office said, those possible roadblocks, along with lawsuits in Seattle trying to stop construction of the proposed arena, could be an afterthought by summer. It is not clear whether NBA leadership, with several lawyers among the ranks, thinks the legal action has no merit or whether the concerns will be addressed in other ways.
Also Thursday, sources said every indication is that the vote on the sale of controlling interest in the Kings from the Maloof family to the Hansen-Ballmer group will be held as scheduled at the Board of Governors meeting April 18-19 in New York. The BoG could rule before then to approve or deny, either by conference call or e-mail ballot, but people close to the situation told NBA.com the issue will likely be decided at the regularly scheduled full meeting.