I don’t usually post here late at night, first because there’s hardly anyone around to read it, and second because I’d rather be asleep myself. But I won’t be around in the morning, and there’s way too much news — or at least reporting of sources claiming to have news — in the Sacramento Kings situation to wait on.
First came a report today by Sacramento TV station KCRA that a “source close to the [Kings] negotiations” was reporting that the Maloof brothers, owners of the Kings, had set a 5 p.m. Friday deadline for would-be Sacramento buyers to offer a bid equal to that of the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen. If such a bid was not forthcoming by then, according to a similarly sourced story in the Sacramento Bee, “the Maloofs have said any talks are off with the Sacramento group.”
That’s pretty crazy, and paints a picture of the Maloofs as either desperate to get the Sacramento “whales” to up their ante lest they get stuck with a lower bid if the NBA rules against the Seattle purchase (both sites cited the source as saying the Sacramento bid was “not even close”), or hoping to scare the league into approving the sale to the Seattle group for fear of being stuck with the Maloofs indefinitely. It’s a strange way of going about it, but then, the Maloofs are known for that sort of thing.
And as if that weren’t enough, this evening we got the long-awaited (if also anonymously sourced) leak of what went on in last week’s NBA meetings on the Kings issue, courtesy of indefatigable Seattle KING5 reporter Chris Daniels. And man, was it a doozy:
- According to multiple sources, reports Daniels, “the second half of the Sacramento presentation [to the NBA] was ‘poor’ — based more on “vision than fact.’”
- Hansen has estimated that a cable deal in Seattle could generate more than $40 million a year, nearly double what has been estimated for a similar deal in Sacramento.
- Accordingly, “several NBA team owners last week indicated their willingness to move the franchise to Seattle.” Yet NBA commissioner David Stern, according to the same sources, “has been quietly maneuvering behind the scenes to propel a Sacramento counter bid,” even working to recruit new members for the Sacramento ownership group.
If true — and it’s always possible that unnamed sources are just trying to spin things toward their own ends, though somewhat less so when a story is sourced to multiple anonymous individuals — then it sounds like we’re getting every lick of the in-fighting that we could have hoped for from an NBA owners’ meeting. Daniels said that “multiple people with knowledge of the negotiations said Wednesday it is still unclear whether a vote will be taken,” which makes sense if there are two competing factions in the room. (A three-quarters supermajority is required to approve the sale.)
It certainly sounds like the NBA owners have recognized that the Sacramento bid is a tad shaky, whereas Stern, at least, is recognizing the value of rewarding cities that come up with arena deals (shaky or no) in response to move threat blackmail. All that means, though, is that NBA owners can read Twitter like the rest of us. As to how they’ll actually vote, I wouldn’t try to predict that at this point if you paid me.