When this is all over and the Kings have new owners and plans for an arena, fans in Seattle or Sacramento will be heartborken.
“I don’t see any scenario where both cities are happy,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
That pretty much kills the expansion hopes, which some fans saw as a win-win scenario in the struggle for the Kings.
Otherwise Stern and Commissioner-in-waiting Adam Silver largely stayed neutral on the issue at their annual All-Star press conference. That despite facing a barrage of questions about the efforts of a Seattle group to purchase the Kings and move the team to the Pacific Northwest — and the effort of Sacramento officials to put together a counter offer.
Stern’s basic lines were that the Seattle group has put together what appears to be a strong offer that is being reviewed by ownership committees. He said they would certainly look at and study an offer being put together by Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson by March 1. But he was able to dodge the hard questions by saying he’s not an owner and he doesn’t have a vote on the ultimate decision.
“As I’ve said before, there’s a very strong ownership group (from Seattle) that has come together, and there’s a plan for a $600 million or so, maybe it’s only 590, building that I haven’t studied any plans of, but it seems to be in the normal course a standard application that’s quite strong,” Stern said….
“It’s going to wait upon Mayor Johnson making good on his statement that there will be an offer. And it’s going to, I think, be upon, in the Sacramento area, a number of the regional municipalities and the various people who have been saying they’ll give the mayor the support that he needs. And we’ll see.”
Stern said he has not met with Johnson but that the owners but said it is possible that offer could sway owners.
“Oh, certainly it’s plausible to me, but I don’t have a vote,” Stern said. “But I expect that the owners have a very open mind on this.”
So why no expansion? Money. Why do you think?
“There’s a large group of owners who believe that expansion is an economic matter, is a neutral thing,” Stern said. “At least the way we’ve done it to date, you get a lot of money in and in return for that you cut the new team in for a large and growing source of revenue from national TV, national licensing, and all things international and digital. And then it doesn’t really seem to make that much additional sense as the increased revenue that demands to the gross BRI and increased each player costs and the like.”
But Stern said he didn’t think in the end this would be a financial decision.
“And I don’t believe it’s going to come down to economics because it’s not about, okay, ‘I say 525. All right. I say 526,’ Stern said. “To me that would be economics. I think the owners are going to have a tough issue to decide. But I don’t want to get to it because we don’t have the predicate for that tough decision yet….
“And then the owners are going to have to deal with it. This is a good time to be a commissioner and not an owner.”
But when a Seattle reporter tried to suggest that the way the Sonics left last time would impact this time, Stern shot him down fast.
“This is being done by the book,” Stern said. “But I seem to remember, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that there was a $300 million plus subsidy for the Mariners, and a $300 million plus subsidy for the Seahawks, and there was a legislation which precluded that for the Sonics, and Speaker Chopp said that we should take the money from our players.”
What Sacramento has now that Seattle didn’t then was a mayor fully committed to getting a deal in place.
The question is will that be enough? Stern and Silver dodged that question like press conference veterans.