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?