As owners meet in New York, Stern says vote on Kings fate weeks away

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Over the next two days in Manhattan — in between expensive dinners and reports on the NBA’s efforts to get a marketing foothold in India — the owners are going to hash out the fate of the Sacramento Kings. In a lot of detail.

But they will not vote on it.

We’ve told you about that delay before, but on Wednesday NBA Commissioner David Stern said it likely will be early next month before the league votes on approving the sale of the team to a group (led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer) that want to move the team to Seattle.

“I would be charitable to say the first week in May, but it could slide a bit,” Stern said. “That’s where we are.”

The combined relocation and finance/sale committees of owners have met the last couple days in New York and will brief the other owners, but that group has not yet made a formal recommendation. That recommendation is expected to carry a lot of weight with the owners.

The owners are deciding between a deep-pocketed Seattle group with plans for a new arena, and a strong counter proposal put together by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson that has its own billionaire and its own arena plan.

If you want to see how owners are torn — and why it feels like Sacramento still has a slim lead in the process — look at what Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen told the Oregonian.

“I think it’s a tough call. Because, although 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 in an area and there’s good political support sufficient enough to have a state-of-the-art facility, that’s more than enough to keep a franchise in the same place. Then you can get all the parameters of who’s made the best offer, who hasn’t made the best offer, all those things. So it’s a very difficult thing. And, of course, Steve Ballmer is a very good friend of mine. I think he’d be a great owner. So I reserve my final decision.”

The owners will make their votes — either in a phone or email process — in a couple weeks.