The fate of the Sacramento Kings won’t be decided until at least May 6, and the only thing certain is that a committee of owners will meet again next week, NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters Friday at the conclusion of the league’s annual owners’ meeting.
Stern called the decision about whether to approve the sale and relocation of the Kings to a Seattle “wrenching”. “This is one that’s just been quite difficult and confusing for the owners as well,” he said.
Stern said the owners’ combined finance and relocation committee would take a vote and issue a report on its recommendation to the Board of Governors – the entire group of owners – following that meeting. League rules give them seven days to consider, meaning a vote can’t happen until the week of May 6.
Stern said owners had additional questions for both the Seattle and Sacramento groups looking to buy the Kings and will schedule calls with both soon.
The commissioner insisted he is not trying to influence the decision or favoring Sacramento, despite reports suggesting he was pushing for the Kings to stay in California.
“The answer is no. At the end of the day, the committee will have to take a vote and decide what to do,” Stern said in a testy exchange with KING 5 reporter Chris Daniels.
Stern also again dismissed talk of the league awarding an expansion franchise to the losing bidder. “I don’t want to say it’s a complete non-starter,” he said deliberately after a long pause when asked of the possibility. But he insisted it wasn’t discussed during the meetings.
“I haven’t heard that in any way, shape or form, particularly when we don’t know at this time what the next network television contract would be,” Stern said.
Stern also said league owners were considering the Sacramento bid a formal counter-offer, even though it has not been agreed to by the Maloof family, majority owners of the Kings. Stern also indicated it was “in the ballpark” of Chris Hansen’s bid.
But the AP reported on Friday the Maloofs have sent a letter to NBA owners urging them to approve the sale of the Kings to the Seattle group, saying there is “significant distance between us and the Sacramento group.”
“The Sacramento group has presented us with a proposed transaction that is significantly more uncertain than, and significantly deficient economically as compared to, our existing, binding agreement” with Hansen’s group, the letter read.