SBD/February 15, 2013/Franchises

Stern Hopes Decision On NBA Kings' Future Is Determined By Mid-April

Stern expects a proposal from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson by mid-April
NBA Commissioner David Stern “expects a concrete financing plan from Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson within the next two weeks, with the aim of settling the Kings' future by mid-April,” according to Brian Mahoney of the AP. Stern said that Johnson “will attend an April 17-18 owners meeting in New York to deliver his proposal, but the league expects to have heard it by then.” Stern also said that he “doesn't currently see ‘a push for expansion’ among owners, knocking down the idea that both” Seattle and Sacramento could end up with teams. Stern said his “statement about expansion is talk to” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver next year. Silver, who will succeed Stern when he retires next year, was “standing behind” Stern. Stern said, "I don't have any plans to champion expansion between now and Feb. 1, 2014. That's up to the ownership and the commissioner" (AP, 2/14). NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper cited sources on Thursday as saying that the NBA “does not expect legal challenges, whether from minority owners of the Kings or groups in Seattle, to be a serious impediment to a potential move.” Johnson has been in “constant contact with top NBA officials,” and he is “expected in town as part of lobbying efforts for the daunting task of convincing owners to vote down the sale of the Kings to a Seattle-based group.” Sources said that current legal action, along with “lawsuits in Seattle trying to stop construction of the proposed arena, could be an afterthought by summer.” It is not clear whether NBA leadership, with “several lawyers among the ranks, thinks the legal action has no merit or whether the concerns will be addressed in other ways” (NBA.com, 2/14).

SACRAMENTO PLAN A: Stern said that he has “no plans to meet with Johnson in Houston this weekend.” In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis notes Johnson and the Sacramento City Council are “scheduled to vote Tuesday on a symbolic resolution expressing support for the mayor's cause.” The resolution “touches on the city's quest to build a new arena” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/15). Johnson on Tuesday said that he “is ‘very close’ to announcing the big-money investors who will help the city make a bid to keep the Kings.” He said that the city “will present that proposal by March 1” (SEATTLETIMES.com, 2/12). In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes Johnson is “in need of a powerful performance” at the All-Star Game. Voisin: "Arm-twisting. Coaxing. Convincing. Pleading. Crossover moves and maybe a three from the corner. Backrooms and hotel suites and lobbies. Anything and everything and everywhere.” Johnson had “hoped to present the league's owners with a compelling offer for majority interest in the Kings,” but as this weekend approaches, the “major equity partners have not been identified and no agreement has been reached.” This weekend is “another chance for Johnson to chat up old friends and display his considerable leadership skills” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/15).
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