News was sparse Thursday after the first day of the NBA’s annual Board of Governors meeting at a Manhattan hotel, where reporters sidewalk-camped in the vain hope of clues about the fate the Kings. New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans owner Tom Benson did say the owners “were getting down to the meat and coconuts.” That may be a Cajun recipe reference.
The NBA said Tuesday that the complexity of the bid battle between Sacramento and Seattle for the free-agent franchise forced postponement of a vote anticipated Friday. The revised decision day was estimated to be the first week of May, but no one knows for sure. So the BOG meet has become a magnum anti-climax, although NBA commissioner David Stern is expected to talk to the media Friday afternoon.
Chris Hansen, leader of the Seattle bid, and Mayor Kevin Johnson, leader of the Sacramento offer, were reportedly staying in New York in case owners wanted an audience with either, but were not scheduled to appear Thursday or Friday, the final day of the meeting.
More interesting stuff came from elsewhere, such as Portland, where Blazers owner Paul Allen met Wednesday at the Rose Garden with staffers before the final game of the Blazers’ playoff-free, 33-49 season. Allen, who also owns the Seahawks and a portion of the Sounders, joined Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in 2008 as the only owners voting against the Sonics’ relocation to Oklahoma City.
Asked about the Sacramento-Seattle argument, Allen was less than solidly in favor of a return of the NBA to his hometown.
“I think the league announced that there wasn’t going to be a decision at this owners meeting. If there was, I’d be back in New York talking to people, forming my opinion,” he said. “I think it’s a tough call. While I supported the Sonics staying in Seattle when they ended up leaving, I think in general, there’s some feeling that if there’s good fan support and there’s good political support sufficient to have a state of the art facility, that’s more than enough reason to keep a franchise in the same place.
“Then you can get into all the parameters of who has made the best offer, who hasn’t made the best offer. It’s a very difficult thing. (Microsoft CEO) Steve Ballmer is a very good friend of mine and I think he would be a great owner. I reserve my final decision.”
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, where the Kings also ended a playoff-free season at 28-54, the NBA’s sixth-worst record, it was plain that the franchise’s uncertain fate for a third consecutive off-season was irking the hell out of some players.
“It’s a tough matter to deal with every year,” third-year center DeMarcus Cousins told the Sacramento Bee after the Kings lost to the Clippers before the third sellout crowd of the season. “It’s an annoying situation. You can’t really plan. Most players have an off-season and they can enjoy it and plan it, but for us, it’s a different situation. We’ve always got to be on-call. We never know what’s going to happen.
“It does bother your focus.”
Players know little more than staffers and fans about what’s happening with ownership, but are frequently pestered with questions.
“It’s kind of annoying to answer the same question 25 times,” said forward Jason Thompson. “From stepping outside, to after a game, during a game, with the media, social networks, everywhere you go, you’re answering the same question. They think we’re the people with the answers, but really it’s the people they don’t know too much about that have all the answers.”
Tacoma native and former University of Washington star Isaiah Thomas completed a successful season, starting 62 of 79 games and finishing with averages of 13.9 points, four assists and 27 minutes a game. But after his second pro season, he also acknowledged the hassle.
“Your outside life is up in the air,” he told the Bee. “Some guys have families, and you just don’t know what’s going on. It’s difficult, and it’s frustrating, too. I always like to know what my next move is, and I always want to be on top of everything, but I can’t with this.”