Seattle-Sacramento Tug O’War Gets 3 More Weeks Of Rope


NEW YORK – Calling it a “wrenching” decision, NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters Friday that the thorny issue of the Sacramento Kings’ proposed sale and relocation would be resolved within the next three weeks.

Which way it goes – the Kings staying and playing right where they are or shifting north as the second coming of the Seattle SuperSonics – remains unclear. And, as Stern told it after the latest NBA Board of Governors meeting, it even has him guessing.

“It’s the only time in the last 37 – 47 years – that I haven’t known the answer,” Stern said, playful with his own timeline in response to a reporter’s question, then turning serious about the process. “No, but this is one that’s just been quite difficult and confusing for the owners as well. And we’ve been working very hard to give it a structure at their direction.”

Whether you believe that assessment might hinge on your view of Stern. Did the most powerful (and some would say controversial) commissioner in sports get that way by behaving like Lady Justice, blindfolded and scales all even-steven? Or is he still the delicatessen owner’s son from Teaneck, N.J., adept at resting a thumb ever-so-slightly on the scale?

Advocates on both sides of the Maloof family‘s possible sale and transfer of the franchise to Seattle interests headed by investors Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer are skeptical that Stern isn’t shading or influencing the process in some way. If both sides are worried that it’s tilting against them, that at least is worth something.

The bottom line out of the BOG sessions held Thursday and Friday, after diligent work by the relocation and finance committees, was that any tilting would matter after the week of May 6-10. That’s when a FINAL final vote will be taken and the Kings’ fate decided.

Why the wait? Those committees will meet again next week to sort through remaining questions about arena construction and financing and about the particulars of each group’s offer. The report they issue will be sent to the entire Board of Governors, which must have at least seven business days to review it. Also, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson told Friday that he thought his group would be permitted to make a final pitch on that city’s behalf.

All of that pushes the BOG vote out three weeks. A league spokesman said it could be held face-to-face again or via conference call. Any meeting might be back in New York or could be held in one of the active playoff cities. Then and only then would folks watching the NBA Draft Lottery know whether the team card in the big envelope said Sacramento or Seattle.

Said Stern: “What makes this particularly difficult … is the Seattle group has done a lot of work. It’s well funded. It’s got spectacular businessmen who support the community behind it, and the Sacramento group has a very strong base of economic support as well.”

The Hansen-Ballmer group recently upped its offer to $357.5 million for a 65 percent controlling interest in the Kings, which pushed the team’s valuation to $550 million. The Sacramento group led by Johnson and investors Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov also have made a bid that, Stern said Friday, is being treated as a signed agreement. Both offers are “in the ballpark,” Stern said when asked about significant differences.

Both have the same negative, too: Neither the Kings’ current home or an NBA return to Seattle’s KeyArena offers the long-term solution.

“We’ve got two temporary facilities that we’re going to be playing in,” Stern said, “whichever way the board goes, and the quality of those facilities and there’s so many other issues and the critical path based upon environmental reviews, potential lawsuits and the like.”

It’s a hot mess, an either/or dilemma that is likely to leave one of the markets – the capital of California or the former Pacific Northwest home of one of the league’s showcase teams – on the outside looking in.

When asked about expansion to Seattle as a compromise solution, Stern said: “I haven’t heard that in any shape or form, particularly when we don’t know at this time what the next television network contract would be.” Remember, beyond dilution of talent and scheduling and alignment concerns, divvying up the hundreds of millions of dollars a 31st NBA franchise would pay for entry would mean cutting another slice from the broadcast revenues in the future.

Then there is Stern’s legacy, which will be sealed next Feb. 1 when he resigns after 30 years. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver has been tabbed as his successor.

Said Stern: “We have expended not only enormous man‑hours but enormous sums of money for outside consultants. This will be by far our most extensive review of anything like this in the league’s history.”

Among other items on the BOG agenda Thursday and Friday:

— Reports on revenue-sharing and the impact of the collective bargaining agreement were heard. “Very upbeat in terms of improving team operations and the competitiveness of the league,” Sterm said.

Jeannie Buss was approved as controlling governor of the Los Angeles Lakers, as the family continues its succession of late owner Jerry Buss. Also, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert and partners purchased additional interest in the Cavaliers franchise.

— The governors “had fun” with a report on officiating, while formally welcoming former NBA player and league exec Mike Bantom as the new head of officiating.

— A report from the competition committee was educational for the owners in highlighting the trends of increased 3-point reliance – from no teams that averaged 20 or more attempts from the arc in 2001 to a dozen that did so this season, Stern said. That, in turn, has opened up the game to the bosses’ satisfaction.

— Security matters also were discussed, especially in the wake of the events this week in Boston. The bombings at the Boston Marathon led to the cancellation of Tuesday’s Pacers-Celtics game in that city. The NBA will be making a “significant contribution,” the commissioner said, to the One Fund established to aid victims of that terrorist attack.

— Stern said he remains optimistic that human-growth hormones will be added to the NBA’s anti-drug testing program but that addition involves cooperation of the National Basketball Players Association, which is busy finding a replacement for executive director Billy Hunter.



  1. Gary Payton says:

    That forces owners to build their team to get more revenue. Brilliant idea!

  2. Gary Payton says:

    That force owners to build their team to get more revenue. Brilliant idea!

  3. Fabio says:

    maybe this is not the right timing,but why don’t you have second division of nba then there is no need of expansion ..

    so the last 2 teams from east and west are relegated to 2nd division and first 4 from 2nd division are promoted to nba ..

    just cancel d-league and give the 12 cities (or more) waiting for nba teams their chance , just like soccer in most ot the world ..

  4. Gary Payton says:

    Keep hearing Sacramento deal is good? Fact is it is incomplete and time is up as of next Wednesday. They are giving Sactown time to do the impossible to avoid legal issues (we gave them every opportunity) and they only started less than three months ago. I do not see it, it does not make good business sense no matter how Kevin and company spin it! Sacramento could have been working on a stadium how many years ago?

    • staticks says:

      Sacramento already had an arena deal approved and ready to go last year before the Maloofs chickened out of the deal at the last minute. So Sacramento is a lot further along on the arena issue than some people in Seattle believe, or want to believe. Secondly, money is a non-issue. Stern already came out and said that the Sacramento offer is comparable and competitive to Seattle’s offer, and that it’s binding and nearly complete (may already be complete as of today). Maloofs sent a letter spreading lies and disinformation about “how bad the Sacramento offer is,” but the Maloofs are known to be deceptive, scheming, and dishonest. I wouldn’t trust a word the Maloofs say, because they’re all trying to bad-mouth Sacramento in every way possible.

      • Gary Payton says:

        Maloof family are not dealing with the group anymore, they are not going to entertain a lesser amount of money which they made clear and Stern is not being forthright with the truth (treating no agreement as a binding agreement, really?). Does not make sense and only one sale has ever been denied because the financials did not check out! The BOG is not going to check out the Sacramento group Financials without a binding agreement and time is too short. The higher the sale amount is more money in owner’s pockets and increases the value of their teams. Everyone should be screaming please consider Expansion because that would be the only answer and without it they may deny the relocation, then approve sale only to revisit relocation in a year. As far as the stadium, Sacramento could have secured the property some time ago like the Seattle group did and started the process to build which takes time. Timeline for Seattle group stadium (60% private money and 40% public) to be completed is two years or by 2015/2016 season. Sacramento group is four to five years if everything goes right (40% private money and 60% public). Seattle group is also going to put up to 20 million in Key arena for two years of use and Sacramento is just another unknown or play in same facility with no improvements.

  5. Artur Otto says:

    California already has four teams. Seattle needs an NBA team. A lot of great NBA players came out from that area

    • staticks says:

      Seattle already has two professional sports teams. I don’t think there are that many people in Seattle who would care that much one way or the other if the Sonics came back or not. I’m sure they would be happy, but they wouldn’t be literally crying or devastated if the Sonics didn’t come back. Sacramento, on the other hand, would collectively be in tears and be completely devastated if their one-and-only pro sports team is ripped away from them.

  6. staticks says:

    I think this whole situation is ridiculous. Sacramento doesn’t deserve to have its only professional sports team ripped away from them. Let Seattle wait for expansion, or prey on another city’s NBA franchise that doesn’t have as rabid fan support as the Kings.

  7. King4Life says:

    I want my Kings stay in Sacramento. Seattle deserves a team as well. Expansion is the only answer but the NBA won’t do it for some reason. I just my team to stay where it belongs. Sorry Seattle.

  8. Cindy says:

    From what I understand, the NBA has to approve the team moving before it can be sold. It seems like they have a great fan bases in Sacramento & Seattle. It doesn’t seem logical to move a team, which has a stable fan base and new owners interested in purchasing the team, and moving it to Seattle. A WIN, WIN situation: keep the Kings in Sacramento & give Seattle an expansion team.

  9. rumbler says:

    This problem was created by the Maloofs themselves 100%. They pulled out of 2 potential deals with Sac in the past 3-4 years, after the last one last year, Mayor KJ asked the Maloofs if the Kings were for sale, Burckle & Mastrove were interested in forming a buyers group. Maloofs lied, said No, then No, then No again, everytime someone asked why dont you just sell the team so the fans of Sac and the City of Sac can move forward to better the franchise. Stern was here, he knows that, the other owners know that. Maloofs said No No No every time. The NBA does not want to reward these petty selfish Maloofs who intentionally misled and blinsided Sac with the Seattle agreement.
    One day from out of the blue in January, the Maloofs announce their agreement with Hansen ONLY after it was tweeted out. They wanted it kept secret ad had not made it public until they were called out on the tweet by someone’s daughter. It has been a dirty deal from the beginning, manipulated by the lying underhanded Maloofs, they used Sac all they could, turned their back on loyal fans and supporters, then would not even give the city the common human courtesy to offer the team to them after 28 years of loyal support. Stern knows this….the owners know this. That is why they have such a problem with this decision, it smacks of corruption and underhanded dealings and the league petty politics by an owner, the league does not want to condone that type of behavior.
    Threshold question…..Why move the team? No reason because the city hada group and wanted to buy the team before Hansen was anywhere on the radar. The Maloofs instead chose to screw over Sac because of their petty personal issues with Burckle, Mastrove and KJ, which arose when they all called the Maloofs out publicly for acting in bad faith & backing out of their previous agreements to keep the team in Sac. The Maloofs are simply vindictive in the way they went about this whole thing. T pulled the Hansen group into the middle and hid behind them. The leaue likes the team in Sac and has always supported having a team in Sac. Seattle only got drawn into this issue because the Maloofs lied to the NBA and to the city of Sac first then put Seattle in the middle to roadblock the Sac group due to their personal petty juvenille dislike for the Sac group & Mayor.

  10. GenZ says:

    What is going on is actually pretty simple. The NBA does not want to move the Kings as relocation is messy and open to all sorts of potential legal challenges. However at the time the Hansen group made the deal with the Maloofs there was no viable local group in place or any sort of arena deal agreed to. Kevin Johnson’s efforts to put something feasible to together to counter offer in such a short period of time was no doubt a surprise to everyone, probably the Maloofs most of all. So now the NBA is in a PR no-win situation, as they normally do not like to tell an ownership group who they can sell to or where but feel in this case they may have to, which risks another wave of legal challenges as well (from the Maloofs probably). The fact the Stern and Bubba Bennett are possibly the 2 most hated men in Seattle history slants the odds towards SacTown in a close race also and now this is considered close. End game, the Kings stay in Sacramento and the Hansen group gets nothing out of this but nice try. Behind the scenes the NBA knows they may have just turned back one of the best potential ownership groups in league history and will try to keep the Hansen group in play somehow but with public support for the NBA in Seattle basically destroyed they will no doubt turn to Hockey or get out of the game completely.

  11. Chris says:

    Stern needs to stop being a jacka@@ and keep Sacramento and give Seattle a “new” expansion team like the NFL did for the Browns. I give it a 50-50 chance the Kings stay or go. The Seattle group keeps sweetening the deal plus the Maloofs already agreed to sell. I live in Memphis and we took Vancouver’s team and they’re still pissed about that. Billions of dollars are involved in this, do the right thing NBA; keep Sacramento and give Seattle a new team!

    • Gary Payton says:

      Stern is a road block to no end and expansion is the answer! I am I the only one that never wants to listen to him speak at a news conference again?

      • Shawn K says:

        I think David Stern is a great Commissioner. And that when he retires, he will be greatly missed. But with that said, I don’t think there’s a need for an expansion (like I said earlier). Seattle is a better market for an NBA team than Sacramento, plus, Chris Hansen and the Seattle group have made strides to buy the Kings (ex: they kept calling the Maloofs about a possible deal.) while Sacramento gave up on them.

  12. Chris says:


  13. DD24 says:

    Give Seattle and Louisville expansion teams and be done with it.

  14. Goose says:

    Send them to ct we need a nba team

  15. Erunezz says:

    Yellow and Green please!!

  16. Gary Clayton says:

    Seattle deserves an NBA team. Sacramento is too bush for a team. They do have rabid fans but the base is too small if you go just a little west of Sacramento the fans look to the Warriors. Sacramento by the way got their team from Kansas City who got theirs from Cincy who got theirs from Rochester so if Seattle gets the team as they should then so what.

    • staticks says:

      By your logic, someone should eventually steal a team from Seattle?

      “Sacramento is too bush for a team.” What are you talking about?

      “The base is too small.” Wrong, Sacramento is #20 TV market, and Kings attendance numbers and revenue beat the Sonics year after year while the Sonics still existed.

  17. Wilt #13 says:

    I started to watch the nba since 2011 and never seen the SuperSonics play at their home floor unless it was on a youtube video.
    I Think Golden State and sacramento[As of now] have the most loyal fans in the nba.
    Seattle as I saw some videos were also some great fans who suppurt their team.
    As of now I never saw a video of a half-empty arena like the bobcats[Im also a fan of them].
    So I dont understand why the NBA doesnt want to have an a expansion team.
    Both Groups want to pay big money to make a good team.
    So why not make an expansion team for seattle or Sacramento?[If the deal goes to seattle.]
    Yes alot of bad teams are now at the NBA.
    But look at them they have great talent.
    CLE- Irving,Waiters Zeller and another lottery pick next season.
    WAS-Since the return of john wall they were a better team with alot of talent with Beal,Nene and okafor.
    CHA-With Kemba walker,Henderson and another lottery pick next season they can be a really good team.
    MIN-With rubio Love and Pecovich[If you spell it that way] They are a playoff team.
    PHI-They have an all-star in Holiday and turner and have alot of money to sigh a good player Now that bynum is gone.
    DET-They have a good talent in Knight,Greg monroe and a player who I think can be a Star with Andre Drummend.
    ORL-They have a rising star with Nick nucivic[If that how you spell it] and a good enough of cap space to sigh a good talent.
    POR-They have a great roockie with Lillerd and a all-star in Aldrige.

    I dont think I need to say anything else but this: LET SACTOWN AND SEATTLE HAVE A TEAM.

    • Shawn K says:

      If the NBA does decide to make an expansion [which I personally don’t think is the right decision, the should just move the Kings to Seattle as the SuperSonics.] they should also give Vancouver or another Canadian province a team. Just to make a rivalry between them and the Raptors.

      But like I said, I think there isn’t a need to expand. 30 teams is a good number. I think the Kings days in Sacramento are coming to an end. An that an era of a new Seattle SuperSonics team is in the making.

  18. Scottie Fox says:

    Remember the uproar from the Seattle fans when they lost the Supersonics to Oklahoma? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical for them to now do the same to Sacramento just so they can have a team again?

    • Shawn K says:

      No it’s not. The Seattle fans were robbed of the SuperSonics. And like someone said earlier, when the Kings played home games, most of the arena was empty. If the team goes to Seattle, the arena will be sold out most of the time! When the Maloofs said they weren’t interested in selling, Sacramento gave up. But the Seattle group never did. That says a lot to me about which city is sincere about having an NBA basketball team.

    • staticks says:

      Yes, hypocritical Seattle fans believe that two wrongs make one right. “Screw Sacramento and their only professional sports team, we want a third franchise in our city RIGHT NOW!”

      Despite the fact that they most likely won’t support the team as much as Sacramento fans currently do, and the fact that this sets a terrible precedent for league stability and small-market teams everywhere in sports.

    • staticks says:

      Yes, hypocritical Seattle fans believe that two wrongs make one right. “Screw Sacramento and their only professional sports team, we want a third franchise in our city RIGHT NOW!”

      Despite the fact that they most likely won’t support the team as much as Sacramento fans currently do, and the fact that this sets a terrible precedent for league stability and small-market teams everywhere in sports.

    • Basketball Fan says:

      This doesn’t compare to when the Sonics left. Please do your research before making such a claim. The Sonics were purchased by Clay Bennett who promised he would do everything in his power to keep the team in Seattle. Meanwhile, he was sending e-mails to his colleagues about how he would tank the team and they would only have to stay for 3 years. He then requested unachievable demands from the city to finance an arena without any ownership help. He lied about his intentions the whole time and was planning to move the team from the start. This is not even close to what is happening with Sacramento. We were blind-sided by a lying owner. However, Chris Hansen has been honest about the whole thing and stated his intentions with the team if he were to purchase them. This is completely different. Please, do your research before criticizing the city of Seattle!

  19. James Barton says:

    I really hope the City of Seattle wins this one I myself miss the days of High Flying Shawn Kemp and ankle braking Gary Payton “The Glove”. Hope to see the green Super Sonics Jersey back in action again!

  20. Spire says:

    why wont the nba add a new team…?

  21. supersonics says:

    seattle is a great place to have a basketball team unlike sacramento the court is so empty always in sacramento

    • rumbler says:

      No its not. Sold our 19 of 28 years with league record of consecutive sellouts. For last 6 years of Sonics when Kings & Sonics both existed, Sac outdrew Seattle by quite a bit. You dont know what you are talking about. The ONLY problem in Sac is the totally incompetent and clueless Maloofs. People love the Kings but hate the Maloofs who have pulled out of 2 previous deals in Sac. People dont want to give the Maloofs their $$$ anymore, but the Kings still have good support.

      • btone31 says:

        For most of the Kings years in Sacramento during the Sonics era, the Kings during their good and bad years out-sold the Sonics in 20 of 23 seasons. The only draw in Seattle is the Seahawks.

  22. ben says:

    sacramento should give up

  23. Eddy says:

    Move the Clippers to Seattle. Keep the Kings in Sacramento

    • LA says:

      How about…. NO

      • Shawn K says:

        NO! The L.A Clippers are starting to make a name as THE team of L.A. For decades, its been no question that L.A belonged to the Lakers. But now, with the team the Clippers organization has brought together in the past couple of years, it would be a terrible idea to move the team. The rivalry between the Clippers and the Lakers and the battling to see which team is “The” team of L.A is amazing. It brings good business to both organizations. So not is it a good idea to keep the Clippers in L.A. Its a good idea financially too.

        And to bring this conversation back to the topic Of the Seattle group VS. the Sacramento group:

        The Seattle group already has an agreement, signed by the Maloof Family, to buy 65% of the Kings. If the Maloofs breach that contract, it’ll be a nightmare both financially and personally, because then they would be hated by everyone. I believe the Maloofs have more common sense than to breach the contract with Seattle just to keep the Kings in Sacramento. While the Sacramento group gave up on keeping the Kings, Chris Hansen kept knocking on the Maloofs door. I believe it was his persistence that made the Maloofs rethink selling the Kings. And here we are today, Hansen has his signed agreement, and Kevin Johnson is trying to make it look like he cares about the Kings. I think he’s only doing this as a publicity stunt to make it seem like he cares. Remember (like I said before), Kevin Johnson had already given up on the Kings. At least Hansen showed he cared and that he was sincere about bringing back the SuperSonics. I really hope the NBA owners Committee doesn’t make the mistake of turning down the Seattle offer to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

      • btone31 says:

        Shawn, Kevin Johnson has given up on the Kings already? Where have you been recently?

      • Shawn K says:

        btone, While Chris Hansen kept calling the Maloofs and knocking at their door, Kevin Johnson gave up. Hansen kept his persistence and look where it got him. He has a signed agreement with the Maloofs to buy the Kings. And what Kevin Johnson is doing now, is putting a last stitch effort in to make it seem like he cares. Kevin Johnson didn’t stay persistent, he gave up on the Kings. and for that reason, the Kings are as good as gone from Sacramento. Might as well start calling them the SuperSonics.

  24. Gary Payton says:

    Trying to avoid a lawsuit by giving Sacramento group every chance to pull it together but there is not enough time. It took the Seattle group two years before they purchased the team to get to the point their at and the money in every revenue stream is hard, if not impossible to beat. The owners will vote on what is the most financially secure situation for their future revenue. Iam very disappointed that they seem to not want to consider expansion when they have to groups willing to pay top dollar which increases the value of all the teams!

    • NBA fan from BC says:

      Totally agree. Expansion would be ideal. Also would love to see the NBA back in Vancouver

  25. asdasd says:


  26. Chris says:

    This is actually becoming more annoying than Dwightmare 12