Recommendation on Sacramento Kings’ fate expected as NBA relocation/finance committee meets today

Vivek Ranadivé (Left), Chris Hansen (Right) - Photos: Morgan Ragan

The fate of the Sacramento Kings is expected to be decided today by the NBA’s combined relocation and finance committee.

No, there won’t be a plume of either purple or green smoke to indicate a victor.  Instead, there will just be a conference call, followed by either an announcement or dead silence leading up to a formal vote by all 30 NBA owners in the second week of May.

The 12-member committee will make a recommendation on whether to approve the relocation of the Kings to Seattle or deny Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer’s bid in favor of keeping the Kings in California’s capital city.

If relocation is recommended, approving Hansen and Ballmer as owners appears to be a mere formality.

“First and foremost, we have a great city,” prospective Sonics owner Chris Hansen said after his presentation before the relocation/finance committee on Apr. 3.  “I mean, Seattle is doing very well economically.  We’ve got the right kind of industries growing – huge knowledge worker growth, right kind of corporate support.  And a lot of enthusiastic basketball fans.”

While there have been rumors about a growing split between a group of owners and NBA Commissioner David Stern regarding this situation, the consensus amongst those in the know expect the recommendation to be the final decision.

“This is strictly about what the owners decide,” Stern said at All-Star Weekend.

This is being described as a neck-and-neck race heading down to the wire.  Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson insists that the incumbent should hold the advantage in such a tight race, while Hansen and Ballmer will point to a legally binding contract that exists between them and the Maloof family.  There is no telling who is right and who is wrong in their thinking.

“The NBA does not want to move a team from one market to another – period,” Johnson said after Sacramento’s presentations before the joint committee in New York earlier this month.  “We already know that.  They normally move a team from one market to another when the fans don’t support it or you can’t build a building.  That’s not the case in Sacramento.”

It’s highly unlikely that the current Kings owners will have any say in the final decision.  If the deal to Seattle is quashed, there is too much money on the table in Sacramento for the Maloofs to pass up.  They will likely take the backup offer, make a statement expressing happiness for the city and wish everyone good luck in the future.

If the recommendation and vote don’t go their way, the Maloofs probably won’t be happy.  But as Stern has made clear on numerous occasions, the league decides where a franchise plays – not an outgoing owner.

“I would say that it is is the owner’s priority in the first instance to decide who they want to sell the team to,” the commissioner said during a trip to Oakland in early March.  “That said, at the end of the day, it’s for the board of governors to make the ultimate decision as to who the team will be sold to and where it will be located.  I’ve spent a fair number of years to establish that power and prerogative within the Board of Governors.”

The finish line is near.  The stage is set for an epic celebration in one city and a crushing blow in another.

As word of advice, be respectful, no matter how the coin toss falls.  And pray that the NBA gods make the right decision for everyone involved by granting an expansion team to the losing city that would create a truly magical rivalry for years to come.

Below is a list of the 12 person committee.

  • Peter Holt, Spurs
  • Micky Arison, Heat
  • Clay Bennett, Thunder
  • Jeanie Buss, Lakers
  • James Dolan, Knicks
  • Wyc Grousbeck, Celtics
  • Ted Leonsis, Wizards
  • Greg Miller, Jazz
  • Robert Sarver, Suns
  • Herb Simon, Pacers
  • Larry Tanenbaum, Raptors
  • Glen Taylor, Timberwolves

Jonathan Santiago also contributed to this post.

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