No one threw more money at the owners of the Sacramento Kings Saturday, but the NBA signaled the business significance of the situation by ordering an unprecedented special meeting of a committee of team owners Wednesday in New York, ahead of the previously booked meeting of the Board of Governors that will decide whether the NBA franchise stays put or is relocated to Seattle.
No presentations by either city will be made, but the mere fact of having a preliminary discussion suggests the NBA has yet to figure out what to do.
Partly that’s because the Sacramento group still hasn’t put together its offer in a form that would be credible to the Maloof family that owns the Kings, or the NBA. A spokesman for Mayor Kevin Johnson, Ben Sosenko, would not say when the group planned to file its bid with the NBA, or whether that bid would match the increased offer from Hansen
“We are prepared to keep the same full-court press that we’ve applied over the last few months,” Sosenko told the Sacramento Bee Saturday.
The news Friday night of Chris Hansen’s addition of $25 million to his record $525 million bid was described as “discounted” by a Bee headline over a story citing unnamed sources describing it as “a move of desperation,” but no one in the ownership group or the city was quoted as saying it.
If the Sacramento bidders deliver a credible offer, NBA owners will be faced with a difficult, unexpected choice between two robust ownerships throwing about $1 billion at the NBA to enter its game, and telling one side that its half-billion is no good.
It’s plain to all observers that Seattle is a bigger, better market with a more advanced arena plan, but just as plain that the incumbent has assembled potential owners that would please outgoing Commissioner David Stern, who has nearly held the bidders’ hand throughout the process of a counteroffer and does not want another relocation on his ebbing watch.
The vote to approve a sale requires three-fourths approval among the 30 owners, meaning that only eight are needed to block a sale to Hansen. The finance and relocation committees are preparing a report to deliver to the board, and while Stern has no vote, his influence has always been significant.
The possibility of expansion has been discussed by national and local media, but Stern has said it was not under consideration by the league “right now.” Stern has had no formal reason to consider it until Sacramento pulls together its much-discussed plan.
The NBA’s highly unusual meeting Wednesday provides a more informal opportunity to take in owners’ views about whether they are willing to consider on a new partner as a solution, and then add the topic to the BOG agenda Thursday.
Hansen’s bid is now $550 million, independent of the arena project. That is $100 million more that the Golden State Warriors were sold for in 2010, the previous high. The significant increase in appreciation is great news for any owner who is thinking of selling.
Hansen’s revised cash outlay to the Maloofs and partner Robert Heinreich for their combined 65 percent of the team would be almost $360 million, up from $341 million.