NBA votes on Kings’ fate tomorrow, still who the hell knows what’ll happen

There’s no real new news today on the Sacramento Kings sale-and-relocation saga, but I know you people want your fresh comments section, so let’s recap where things stand going into tomorrow’s NBA owners’ meeting in Dallas.

  • The league’s relocation committee voted not to revote yesterday on its original unanimous vote two weeks ago to reject moving the Kings to Seattle. So presumably that means they’re sticking by “nuh-uh,” which the rest of the owners will almost certainly stand by.
  • The NBA finance committee still hasn’t weighed in on the separate matter of whether to approve the sale of the Kings to Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer’s group, which could conceivably happen even if the relocation is rejected. The Seattle Times, citing “sources,” says that “representatives of each city will make presentations before the board of governors on Wednesday,” and the finance committee could meet after those and before the full league vote.
  • The league could always decide to postpone tomorrow’s vote to give themselves more time to reach consensus, or the two groups vying to own the Kings time to throw more cash on the table.

The number of plausible scenarios is still pretty large — I feel like we really need a flow chart to contain them all, but let me attempt here:

  • NBA approves the sale of the team and its relocation: The Kings become the new Sonics, Kevin Johnson busts a gasket, and everybody finally goes home. Odds: Not very likely, given that relocation committee vote.
  • NBA approves the sale, but not the relocation: Hansen et al. either end up with 65% of the Sacramento Kings, or 20% of the Kings if they go with the backup purchase plan that the Maloofs revealed last week. Then the new co-owners bide their time to see if Sacramento’s arena deal collapses: If yes, they take the team to Seattle in a year or two, if no, they’ve at least had time to make some friends in the NBA owners’ club and can lobby them for a Seattle expansion team sooner than later. Odds: Possible, but requires everyone to wait years more for resolution, which may not please either Hansen or the NBA.
  • NBA rejects both the sale and the relocation, and the Maloofs accept the Ranadive offer: KJ is happy, Hansen is steamed, and the Maloofs eat $65 million in purchase price. Odds: Also possible, though the bit about the Maloofs leaving $65 million on the table seems like a reach, especially since they’ve been saying all along that they’d sooner keep the team than sell it to the Sacramento “whales.”
  • NBA rejects both the sale and the relocation, and the Maloofs say “Fine, we’re not selling, then”: Everybody is unhappy! KJ has to decide whether to offer his arena deal to the hated Maloofs! And either Hansen or the Maloofs or both could presumably try to sue, though good luck with that, given that NBA bylaws explicitly give the league the right to make the final decision on where teams play and who gets to be in their little club. Odds: Sounds kinda crazy, but the way things are going with this team, crazy would be about par for the course.

Add it all up, and … I still can’t predict. It seems like while the NBA still makes out pretty well under any scenario — there’s really no way to do badly when you have two cities and two ownership groups competing to throw money at you for a team that just a year ago was considered the least-valuable in the league — whatever they do, somebody’s going to be outraged and maybe even litigious. Pushing back the vote again would be one way of dealing with this, but it’s not like the decision is going to get any easier in another two weeks. Maybe they could try a simpler decision-making process?

27 comments on “NBA votes on Kings’ fate tomorrow, still who the hell knows what’ll happen

  1. The NFL was sued and lost before, based on basic rules of commerce and competition. I don’t think the NBA is immune to that, they probably just think they’re above the law.

  2. Not only are the Maloofs crazy but Ballmer is too:

  3. Even the owners are tired of the giant roshambo tournament bracket they’ve been doing at these meetings. Phoning it in… literally.

  4. I’m rooting for a lawsuit if Sacramento get’s this team. The NBA’s municipal shakedown racket needs to be tipped over.

  5. “Not only are the Maloofs crazy but Ballmer is too”

    If we assume that that NBA “source” in that NBC Sports article is a purposeful leak, this certainly reads as the league telling Hansen/Ballmer “STFU and wait your turn.”

    We’ll know for sure if the league ends up voting against them tomorrow, I guess.

  6. I think we have a great idea of what’ll happen: Relocation will be rejected.

    It’s the ensuing hilarity that will be hard to predict. Unpredictable comedy is more precious than predictable comedy.

  7. Good summary Neil.

    I’d suggest “holding the course” (IE: no real decision) is the most likely outcome here. Sports leagues have learned that forcing people who are desperate to throw (generally other people’s) money at them to queue up to do so almost always results in larger parcels of money being lobbed over the fence (when in doubt, add money).

    It’s questionable how much more they could actually get here given the insane numbers being thrown around for a largely moribund franchise, but they definitely know they aren’t going to get less by forcing incredibly impatient rich people to wait a little longer.

  8. There are quite a bit of YouTube videos, one posted by ChefJoe, that show Ballmer screaming in a way that makes Howard Dean seem tame.

  9. MikeM is right. I’m looking forward to the ensuing hilarity. This ordeal is actually more interesting than what actually goes on during the NBA’s games.

  10. Guys, please don’t use what Aaron Bruski writes as an indicator of where things stand. This guys is a renowned SAC homer and if you don’t believe me, check his twitter timeline or anything he’s published on this topic previously. I would take everything he says with a grain of salt. In the past, most of his “sources” have been from the KJ camp trying to spin the story.

  11. Isn’t there some sort of a time limit in which they have to reject or accept PSA’s? I thought there was, and I thought it was about 120 days, and the default is “Sale approved”…?

    I still find it so weird that the sales committee hasn’t issued a recommendation. It could be that the NBA really wants this team in Sac (mostly because of the size of the subsidy, er, public-private partnership), but don’t like the idea of losing HBN and/or Seattle permanently.

  12. Griffin, Bruski still won’t admit that he got the entire AB900 thing wrong. Even the fan websites think he’s coocoo on that issue.

  13. The various payments by Team Ranadive and the City of Sacramento- well, that’s a whole other ball of wax entirely. Maybe the NBA wants to give Sacramento one or two more years to succeed. But without revenue sharing, that could be a long two years. Let’s go broke for some 20-62 basketball!!!

  14. 1 or 2 more years? Stern definitely has it out for Seattle if thats the case. Also, the way the new arena is financed, still seems wishy washy to me. They should tell the Sac group to put 100% of the money in escrow, if they cant, why even bother.

  15. Wishy washy is an understatement for Sacto’s arena financing plans but the NBA seems to think that there’s a chance this will go through. They might be right.

  16. Here’s the press release, which is all I’ve seen other than Chris Daniels’ tweets:

    Clearly the timing with tomorrow’s NBA vote isn’t coincidental. Whether it’ll scare any of the owners enough to change their minds is another story.


    Best of Steve Ballmer, Steve Ballmer going crazy… all good videos of our favorite CEO.

  18. I don’t think it will change votes tomorrow but it’ll make life interesting in Sacramento for a while.

  19. More interesting, perhaps, is the fraud lawsuit against City reps:

  20. Fun fact, that video where Ballmer keeps clapping out Developers was from the MSFT company meeting that is held at KeyArena most years.

  21. I doubt any owner will change their mind for tomorrows vote, but if these guys somehow force a public vote the NBA would likely panic because they damn well know they can lose, because they have before. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they threaten to move to Seattle if they lose the vote despite the fact that only a few months before they rejected that plan.

  22. Intimidating a public vote into happening is easier than getting a vote on ballot through referendum. Especially if you don’t have paid gatherer army.

  23. Ryan: I thought that momentarily the decision by the Ranadive group to give up revenue sharing money might switch some votes. Seems that would put the writing on the wall for all small market owners. But once Hansen et al stated they’d do the same (at least I think that’s what they said), that gave small market owners little reason to prefer one ownership group to the other.

  24. According to Tweets by Tim Montemayor of San Francisco’s KGO radio, it sounds like that the NBA wants Hansen and Ballmer and is tired of the Maloofs but the Maloofs screwed up Seattle’s bid. Maybe expansion is closer than we think. Good night all. I have a long day worth of meetings tomorrow so I’ll be missing out on the news in real time.

  25. The only way out and to avoid costly & embarrassing litigation is guaranteed expansion for Seattle. H/B/N walked this path via Stern. Stern hoped Seattle would go away. Stern is learning Ballmer is not going to lay down like Howard Schultz.