Just when you thought the Sacramento Kings saga couldn’t get any more wacky, yesterday Reuters issued an anonymously sourced report that, if true, indicates that jilted buyer Chris Hansen may be about to open a whole new can of crazy-ass:
The idea, this source said, would be for Hansen to persuade NBA owners to support his efforts to buy the team, even if they do not immediately allow him to move it.
Under the NBA’s rules, a decision to relocate a team is separate from a decision to sell a team. So under this scenario, the league could support its committee’s recommendation against moving the Kings to Seattle, while still supporting the Hansen group’s efforts to purchase it.
The league could require Hansen to work in good faith with the city of Sacramento to try to keep the team there, setting a deadline for the construction of a new arena and working to keep attendance high at the games.
But if the arena wasn’t built according to the schedule, or if attendance slipped at the games, Hansen could apply again for permission to move the team – and it could be more likely to be granted, this source said.
This gambit should be familiar to Seattle basketball fans, as it’s essentially the Clay Bennett Maneuver: Buy a team, promise a “good faith” effort to keep it in town, then when arena negotiations stall, hightail it out of town to where you really wanted to be in the first place.
USC sports business professor David Carter tells Reuters that this could be a graceful way for the NBA to avoid the public uproar over moving a team, while still getting into the Seattle market once the Sacramento arena deal hits a snag. Which sort of makes sense — except that when the entire plan is spelled out in the newspaper before it’s even started, then you end up facing public uproar over calculatingly playing a city that you don’t intend to stay in just in order to duck a public uproar. Kingsgate, anyone?
Also, Hansen would be running the risk that Sacramento would call his bluff and actually build an arena, at which point he’d be stuck with a team in a city he doesn’t want to own one in. (Though he works in San Francisco, so it’s not like it’s that far a commute.) I suppose at that point he could always sell the team and ask his new NBA buddies for a different one that he could put in Seattle. Because that’s how it works in the sports biz.