In the afterglow of Monday's dramatic turn of events, where the NBA's relocation committee unanimously recommended against relocation to Seattle, Kevin Johnson and crew were quick to point out that there was still a lot of work to be done. The recommendation was a step in the right direction to keep the Kings in Sacramento, but we know all too well that it's wise to avoid assuming things will go smoothly as long as the Maloofs have any hand in the process. In today's Sacramento Bee, Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis and Dale Kasler (who have been nothing short of stellar throughout this entire process) present an excellent rundown of the remaining hurdles ahead. It is also revealed that Sacramento's investment group is hoping to present a finalized deal to the NBA Board of Governors when the BOG meets on May 15th.
"We hope to be in a position at that point where our ownership group gets approved," Johnson said. "That's our end game."
The article notes that Sacramento's investment group, led by Vivek Ranadivé, are hoping that the Maloofs will re-enter negotiations in the wake of Monday's vote. There's been a lot of speculation as to how much control the Maloofs will have in the negotiation process, but ultimately the Maloofs will be the ones signing on the dotted line. As long as they are involved, uncertainty remains.
It also remains unclear what Chris Hansen will do next. The Bee notes that the NBA's finance committee did not hold a vote to make a recommendation. They still could, but at this time no vote is scheduled. The Bee cites sports-law expert Mike McCann as saying that the NBA may be trying to avoid directly turning down Hansen, hoping instead that he might withdraw his offer. McCann notes that Hansen's offer is an attractive one, and it's difficult for the NBA to turn that down directly.
Hansen backing out on his own accord, much as the Maloofs did regarding their proposed relocation to Anaheim, would allow Hansen to save face. It would also remove any league concerns about legal action being taken, but there have been reports that Hansen would have had to waive his ability to sue as part of the sale vetting process with the NBA.
Ranadivé and company are expected to put 50% of the purchase price for the Kings into an escrow account by Friday. Hopefully this action will convince the Maloofs of the legitimacy of Sacramento's offer. This legitimacy, by the way, is a concern only to the Maloofs at this point. If there were concerns about the financial legitimacy of the Sacramento bid, Monday's vote would have likely gone very differently. Some may point to the finance committee not weighing in as a sign that the financial elements may not be strong in Sacramento, but recall that the finance and relocation committees worked hand in hand to review both potential ownership groups. If there were problems with Vivek and Co's finances, the relocation recommendation would have reflected that.
My personal hope is that the Maloofs will see the money in the escrow account and recognize the value of a bird in the hand. Of course, I learned long ago that I shouldn't presume that the Maloofs will use any sort of a predictable thought process.
This all serves to simply remind us that this isn't over yet. It seems all but assured that we're keeping the Kings at this point, but many of us won't fully celebrate until the Maloofs have officially signed over the team to Vivek.