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Thursday, April 18, 2013 - Page updated at 10:30 p.m.
Decision on Sacramento Kings may not be made until early May
By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter
NEW YORK — A decision on whether to relocate the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, once expected to come this week, now may not arrive until early May, NBA commissioner David Stern said Wednesday.
Stern made the comment in a brief, impromptu meeting with the media outside the NBA's offices in New York after the league's combined Relocation/Finance committee met for roughly four hours to discuss the Sacramento/Seattle battle over the Kings.
Asked when a decision may be made, Stern said: "I'd be charitable to say the first week of May, but it could slide a bit. ... I'm guessing 2-3 weeks (from now)."
The committee did not make a recommendation Wednesday to forward to the league's Board of Governors, and Stern said it will meet again at the end of next week to further discuss the issue, likely via teleconference.
San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, a member of the committee as well as the chairman of the league's Board of Governors, said owners are torn, saying they are "not even close" to a decision.
"It's a hard one," he said as he hurried past reporters waiting in the lobby of the NBA offices. "It's a hard one. You've got two great cities."
Holt also didn't rule out that expansion could be an option.
Asked if expansion is off the table, Holt said "not necessarily" and then reiterated that sentiment when asked again. Holt, though, said expansion was not discussed Wednesday.
Stern, however, said "there are no current plans to expand" while also repeating that expansion was not discussed.
Several league sources have said that the delay could give the league time to further consider expansion as a way out of the Seattle/Sacramento situation despite the fact that Stern has insisted repeatedly it is not something the league wants to do at the moment.
In explaining the reason for the delay in making a decision, Stern repeated themes he uttered two weeks ago, when he first hinted that the decision might go past the league's annual Board of Governors meetings. The meetings will be held in New York Thursday and Friday, when it had long been expected that the vote would be held.
It was revealed on Tuesday that the BOG would not vote this week, but at that time it was left unclear how much longer the decision may take.
Stern said again that the issue is "really quite complex" and added "the committee still has additional questions as they go through this in great detail about deals, finance, real estate challenges, environmental reviews and lawsuits and the like. ... There are loads of documents, some as recently as today, in connection with this transaction that we are in the process of sifting through and analyzing."
One of the documents arriving Wednesday was the formal offer by the Sacramento group for the Kings.
Neither Stern nor Holt would go into detail about the offer. But league sources said it does not match the increased Seattle offer of $357 million for 65 percent of the team, based on a $550 million valuation of the Kings. It's also unclear if Sacramento has offered to match the $30 million deposit made by the Chris Hansen-led Seattle group to the current controlling owners, the Maloof family.
Holt said "not that I know of" when asked if the Sacramento bid included the down payment. Stern, asked if Sacramento would be willing to make the down payment, paused and said, "The answer to that is yes."
The Sacramento Bee also reported that the Sacramento bid was "nonbinding" and that the offer asks for the Maloof family to "terminate its deal" with the Seattle group and prevent the NBA from voting on the Seattle offer. Stern said he would not go into detail about the Sacramento offer. Sports legal expert Michael McCann noted via Twitter that the offer would have to be nonbinding so as not to put the Maloofs in danger of breaching their agreement with Hansen.
Stern said it is likely that finance/relocation committee will meet again next week, at which time it could issue a report/recommendation.
He said NBA bylaws require at least "seven business days" from the time a report is issued until a vote can be held so the 30 members of the Board of Governors can "have it and study it."
Stern said there would likely then be another meeting of the BOG for it to vote, at which time representatives of each city would be "afforded an opportunity to address the board."
Stern indicated that any addresses by representatives of each city would not be as exhaustive as the 90-minute presentations made by each city to the finance/relocation committee on April 3.
"I'm not sure exactly how I would characterize it," Stern said. "But I know there is an opportunity for the parties who have made the application to address (the board)."
The nine owners who heard those presentations were Holt, Clay Bennett (Thunder), James Dolan (Knicks), Herb Simon (Pacers), Larry Tanenbaum (Raptors), Glen Taylor (Timberwolves), Jeanie Buss (Lakers), Robert Sarver (Suns) and Greg Miller (Jazz). Also on the committee but not in attendance Wednesday were Wyc Grousbeck (Celtics), Ted Leonsis (Wizards) and Micky Arison (Heat).
Hansen was also in New York on Wednesday but did not attend the meetings.
All sales of NBA teams must be approved by 23 of 30 owners. Hansen has also applied for relocation of the team, which requires approval of 16 of 30 owners.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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