There undoubtedly was a lot of talking behind closed doors as the NBA Board of Governors met for the first time Thursday to debate the Seattle/Sacramento tug of war over the Kings. But there was little talking publicly about what may have been discussed.
NEW YORK — NBA commissioner David Stern is expected to provide an update today on the Seattle/Sacramento tussle over the Kings.
Stern is expected to make his remarks by noon or so Pacific time as the NBA Board of Governors wraps up two days of meetings here.
The BOG will not vote on a proposed sale of the team, as had earlier been expected. Stern has said a decision on that may not come until early May.
While the BOG has several items on its agenda at what are its annual end-of-season meetings at the St. Regis Hotel, the Seattle-Sacramento situation dominated the conversation.
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While owners emerging from talks had little to say Thursday, there undoubtedly was a lot of talking behind closed doors as the board met for the first time to discuss the tug of war over the Kings.
“It’s very confidential at this point,” said Peter McLoughlin, who is the president of the Seahawks and Sounders and attended the meetings here as Paul Allen’s fill-in representing the Portland Trail Blazers. “I wish I could be more helpful.”
The BOG met for about six hours and concluded around 9 p.m. Eastern time Thursday.
Apparently, though, much work still remains, as New Orleans owner Tom Benson said that the group is only now “getting into the meat and coconuts” of the issue.
Stern, who had held an impromptu press briefing Wednesday after a meeting of the Relocation/Finance committee, did not emerge Thursday to talk to reporters. Stern said Wednesday he did not expect the Board of Governors to take a vote whether to approve a sale of the Kings to a group that would move them to Seattle until at least the first week of May, and there was nothing Thursday to indicate that timeline had changed.
One of the members of the family that is the controlling owners of the Kings, George Maloof, tried to sneak out a hotel side door but was caught by a Sacramento TV station. Maloof revealed little other than that the family hoped “to get it over with at some point” and that he expects the decision to come in May.
A Maloof spokesman released a short statement clarifying that George Maloof meant to say “he’s fine with the process and the timetable the NBA has to proceed.”
The Sacramento Bee then later reported that a source told it the Maloof family continues to hold its long-held stance that it has a binding agreement with the Seattle group and wants the NBA to vote to approve that sale.
Maloof wouldn’t say if the Sacramento offer for the Kings is comparable to that of Seattle’s. League sources have said the offer does not match that of Seattle’s, which is for roughly $357 million for 65 percent of the team based on a $550 million total valuation as well as a $30 million deposit.
League sources, though, have said the case for Sacramento is also based on the city’s willingness to quickly assemble a new ownership group and arena plan and its long tradition of support for the Kings.
That the decision has been delayed has led to rumors that the owners could consider expansion as a way to settle the contentious issue.
Several owners Thursday, however, said expansion is not being discussed.
Just how much of a struggle the owners may be having appeared evident in comments made by Allen to Portland reporters on Wednesday. In 2008, when the NBA voted 28-2 to allow the Sonics to relocate to Oklahoma City, Allen was one of the two dissenters (Thursday marked the five-year anniversary of that vote, which was also held at the St. Regis).
Allen, though, sounded mixed on what he would do this time around, saying: “I think it’s a tough call. While 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 and there’s good political support sufficient to have a state of the art facility, that’s more than enough reason to keep a franchise in the same place. Then you can get into all the parameters of who has made the best offer, who hasn’t made the best offer. It’s a very difficult thing. Steve Ballmer (part of the Sonics’ ownership group) is a very good friend of mine and I think he would be a great owner. I reserve my final decision.”
Upon arriving at the meetings, McLoughlin told KJR-AM, when asked if Allen would vote against Seattle, that “I don’t see that occurring, no.” Later, when asked by The Times about that comment, he said only that he couldn’t comment.
Chris Hansen, leader of the Seattle ownership group, was said to still be in New York, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson arrived on Thursday. Neither, though, was seen at the meetings, apparently here in case they are needed to answer questions.
The specter of little info, however, didn’t stop reporters from spending the day camped in front of the St. Regis and resisting the urge to ask two of the better-known guests seen entering the hotel — Elton John and actor Ben Stein — what they thought of it all.
Joining those two on the guest list was former UW and Seattle Prep standout Spencer Hawes, who is now playing for the Philadelphia 76ers but spent his first three years in the NBA with the Kings.
Hawes, though, made clear where his loyalties are, sporting a Sonics cap as he carried his bags into the hotel, saying he just happened to be booked there for a little postseason vacation.
“A weird coincidence,” he said. “This is an interesting scenario. Hopefully it gets resolved soon.”
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @bcondotta