The NBA and Stern decided to put off what looked like a sure approval for a move, but in reality it was not so sure.
You have the potential for profit sharing and that has to be factored into the equation of any move by the Sacramento Kings. You have the big market franchises fighting off their small market owners AND the players union on this same issue. Then you add the real threat of a small market team setting the precedent of moving into and infringing on one of the big markets.
Buss can only fight so many battles at one time and politics is all about leveraging your political capital to the best effect. Because of this the move to Anaheim is not a sure thing. It is a gun to the head of the big markets saying you share your profits or we, the majority of small market owners, will vote to approve our fellow small market teams moving in and take those profits from you.
The way Buss and other owners negotiate to stop this is to share profits. They do that and the Kings don’t move. They refuse to share enough and it is not just the Kings moving, but at least 3-4 other struggling franchises.
Stern is playing a dicey game among the ownership to get the NBA going into the right direction. He is pitting small and big market owners against each other. The Maloofs are gaining political advantage by leading the way and possibly gaining enough influence to move the Kings even if the profit sharing goes through.
Only time will tell how this all plays out, but any profit sharing will go along with a condition of market protection assurance. That is the way this move of the Kings gets killed. Buss and other big market teams agree to profit sharing on the condition that there is no big market infringement. This has the additional benefit of giving the Unions what they want and resolving their labor issues without a potential lockout.
The way forward is interesting. In reading the tea leaves and between the lines of the published statements it appears that there are many undercurrents within the current NBA body politic. There never has been a sure move of the Kings and it seems that they may be nothing more than Stern’s pawns in a larger game of chess. Adding the possibility of new ownership definitely adds to the politics and in the end Stern may have to play pawnbroker.