The Sacramento Kings are going to remain the Sacramento Kings.
And Seattle is going to remain without an NBA team.
A collection of a dozen NBA owners — making up a group looking into the sale and relocation of the Kings to a group from Seattle — voted unanimously to recommended against allowing the team to move, the league confirmed on Monday afternoon (the story was first reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports). This will kill the sale to the Seattle group.
While the full NBA ownership will vote on the issue next week, they have always been expected to follow the recommendation of committee. This is a done deal barring some major, unexpected revelation.
The Maloofs had struck a deal to sell the team to a Seattle group led by venture capitalist Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. From NBA Commissioner David Stern on down the league had called this a good offer that included a new stadium and more. The Seattle group was very confident it was about to return the Sonics to Seattle.
But led by Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, the city put together a counter-offer that was led by their own billionaire — Vivek Ranadive, a Silicon Valley guy who is a minority owner of the Warriors, along with Mark Mastrov of 24-hour-Fitness — and came with its own stadium.
In recent weeks several owners had said this seemed like a 50-50 proposition, but things being equal the owners decided to go with the incumbent.
Why? Because many these owners need to make pitches to their own communities in the next decade or so asking for money to upgrade their arena if not build a new one. If a city like Sacramento did everything they could to get a new stadium and were ditched anyway, what does that say to mayors and city councils around the nation.
The Maloofs do not have a deal to sell the team to the Sacramento group but will be under tremendous pressure to make one — both financial pressure and from the league. Expect that deal to come together fast.
As for Seattle, Hansen will likely keep pushing the arena plan forward and look for another team he can buy and move (NBA Commissioner David Stern has said league expansion is not in the cards right now). The problem is — and why they fought so hard for this deal is — that there are no obvious candidates on the horizon. While there are a few teams in smaller markets we could point to, all currently have strong ownership groups in place with no plans to sell.