The fate of the NBA's Sacramento Kings is now up to NBA owners. Commissioner David Stern told reporters Wednesday a decision won't come easy, but expansion is definitely not an option after league owners heard from both Seattle and Sacramento groups Wednesday in a day of presentations at a Manhattan hotel.
"We've never had a situation like this," said Stern in a news conference following the presentations.
Stern said the complexities could delay a final decision beyond the NBA's scheduled Board of Governor's meeting April 18-19, when owners were expected to vote on whether to approve the sale of the Kings to Chris Hansen and move the team to Seattle, or block the deal and pave the way for Sacramento to keep the team.
"It's not at all clear what the precise timeline is for final determination," Stern said. He said league officials would be in "continual conversations" with the committee of owners who heard the presentations, and would meet at least once more before the full owners meeting later this month. And he said they need "a lot more data and information."
"The seriousness of purpose to me is really incredible because they know that there is a lot at stake here for two communities and the NBA and I don't think they need to be influenced or want to be influenced," Stern said of the owners.
Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver refused to discuss specific details of either presentation, including whether the Sacramento group agreed to match Hansen's reported $341 million offer for the majority stake in the Kings.
Silver also refused to discuss the $30 million deposit Hansen paid the Maloof family. "It's two entirely different situations," Silver said. "Again, when the Seattle group put down a down payment, that was a contingent deal based on, of course, the ability to purchase and relocate the team."
Perhaps most significantly, Stern ruled out any possibility of expansion any time soon, guaranteeing either Seattle or Sacramento will come out of the process a loser.
"Right now expansion sort of on horseback, so to speak, is not a prudent way to run a league," Stern said.
He added it would be unwise for the NBA to expand without knowing the value of its next TV deal, along with potential international expansion and digital media rights. "To cut off a chunk of that and have an expansion is just imprudent on a quick decision," he said.
Stern said his ultimate role is to provide as much information as possible to the owners, who will have the final say. Given the strength of both offers, he made clear it won't be an easy decision.
"We've got a fair amount of work to do," he said.
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