David Stern held his annual end of season press conference today and as with seemingly every Stern press conference over the last few years, the Sacramento Kings dominated the conversation.
Stern noted that the NBA's combined finance and relocation super-committee would meet again next week and then make their recommendation to the Board of Governors, and a final vote would take place a couple weeks after the recommendation is made, around the week of May 6th.
Stern said that there are still additional issues on both side that the Board has asked them to look at. Not among the issues however is the offer. Stern said that both offers were in the same "ballpark" in terms of net money for the Maloofs, and that the owners are treating Sacramento's offer as binding. Stern added that Sacramento's offer wasn't yet as complete as it was likely going to be by the end of business today or tomorrow. This is in a bit of a contrast to a letter sent by the Maloof Family to the NBA on Wednesday in which they indicated that they had several issues with the Sacramento Group's offer.
The letter, obtained by the Associated Press and later the Sacramento Bee, urges the Board of Governors to approve the deal the Maloof Family has with the Hansen-Ballmer group. The family writes that because of their concerns with the offer from Sacramento, they "see no reason to continue any dialogue with the Sacramento group or to give any further consideration to negotiating back-up offers based on its latest non-binding proposal". The issues given in the letter include:
- Sacramento has matched the original $525 million valuation but not the new $550 million valuation.
- Chris Hansen has offered a $30 million deposit, Sacramento has only offered $15 million.
- Sacramento's offer is non-binding and is asking the Maloofs to negate their deal with Chris Hansen, something that the Maloofs say costs them "leverage to aggressively renegotiate terms in the event the existing agreement is terminated."
- The Maloofs believe that Sacramento's influx of new investors is them scrambling for more money because of a "lack of funds".
- The Maloofs also state that they believe Sacramento is behind on their arena effort compared to Seattle.
- The Maloofs also state that the Sacramento group has refused to comply with a request to not terminate contracts of current employees for at least 18 months while Chris Hansen agreed.
The Maloofs were present at the meetings, a "welcomed presence" according to David Stern. However, Stern reiterated that because the sale involves moving a team, the ultimate decision on where it will end up lies with the NBA not the individual owner. Stern also stated that the Sacramento group has provided documentation and assurances of funding support.
With the offers not necessarily being the biggest issues, Stern said that the biggest factor currently being researched are each city's individual arena deals. Stern praised both groups, citing Seattle's strong market (which he said has grown since the NBA left) but also said that Sacramento has a strong economic base and has stepped up to the plate throughout. He added that the owners were struggling to decide just what degree Sacramento's status as the incumbent deserves. When asked by Seattle's Chris Daniels whether or not he was favoring one side of the other, Stern said that despite what had been written, he was not guiding either side. He also said there was no attempt to form a consensus on the issue and that owners would vote as they saw fit.
The topic of expansion came up again, but despite not labeling it a non-starter, he did say that it was not being discussed at this time and that there was likely going to be at least one disappointed city.
In a somewhat confusing remark, Stern said that the owners would be voting on relocation prior to the sale. This could potentially be big as relocation only requires a majority vote while sales require 3/4th. I'm not sure it's too big of a deal because the owners know these two issues are tied together. Chris Hansen has no intention of owning a team in Sacramento.
If you'd like to watch the Press Conference in its entirety, CBS 13 has the full video here.
Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times also has a transcript of the Kings part of the conference.