SEATTLE — With NBA meetings nearing that could decide the fate of the Sacramento Kings, a critical piece of information remained missing Monday — Sacramento’s updated, binding offer for the team.
A league source said the city had yet to submit an offer for the team that would match that of a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen.
In a lengthy interview conducted Monday by The Sacramento Bee with Vivek Ranadive, who is now leading the Sacramento ownership group, Ranadive would not say if the group had submitted an updated, formal offer.
The Sacramento Bee reported last week that the Sacramento group had informed the NBA it would match Seattle’s original bid of $341 million for 65 percent of the team. But as of Monday a formal offer hadn’t come.
Friday, Hansen announced he would increase the bid to make the overall value of the franchise $550 million. That increased his bid by roughly $17 million to approximately $357 million.
The Bee also reported Monday that Ranadive would not say if the Sacramento group would match the updated Seattle bid. The Bee had reported over the weekend that the Sacramento group might not bother matching the increased bid, noting that the NBA could accept a lower offer.
Michael McCann, an on-air legal analyst for NBA-TV, said the league can accept a lower bid but might face some resistance from NBA owners, who must approve the sale.
“As a private association that sets its own rules, the NBA has the capacity to evaluate bids as they see it,” he said. “Bidders are not guaranteed having the highest bids means they win the bidding. But I suspect some owners would be uncomfortable voting for a lesser offer. Also the Maloofs (the current controlling owners) would have to agree to take a lesser offer.”
The NBA revealed last week it will begin deliberations on the issue Wednesday, a day earlier than originally planned.
That meeting of the NBA’s Relocation and Finance Committee will come a day before the regularly scheduled NBA Board of Governors meeting Thursday and Friday in New York.
The Relocation and Finance Committee also heard presentations from each city in New York on April 3. The owners who heard those presentations were Peter Holt (San Antonio Spurs), chairman of the Board of Governors; Glen Taylor (Minnesota Timberwolves), Clay Bennett (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jim Dolan (New York Knicks), Ted Leonsis (Washington Wizards), Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto Raptors), Herb Simon (Indiana Pacers) and Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics).
The Relocation and Finance Committee is expected to then forward a recommendation to the NBA Board of Governors, which consists of all 30 owners. Seattle will need 23 of 30 owners to approve the sale.
Unlike the previous meeting, representatives of the cities will not make presentations to the committee but are expected to be available to answer questions or address issues that are raised.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said that it was uncertain whether the Board of Governors will vote this week.
Stern usually addresses the media once the Board of Governors meetings conclude, and if there has been a vote it would likely be revealed then. The NBA has said there will be no media availability until the Friday news conference.
If the NBA is not ready to vote in New York, it could do so at any later time without having to again meet.
Stories in national media outlets, quoting unnamed sources, portray the league as still torn over the issue, with owners generally feeling that relocating the Kings to Seattle would be the better longterm financial move for the NBA but also feeling loyalty to a Sacramento market that has supported the league well since getting the Kings in 1985 and has taken aggressive steps to keep its team.
An NBA.com story, though, indicated that the Seattle side has a significant ally, writing that “the Maloofs have never changed their mind about preferring to seal their deal with Hansen.”
The Bee reported Monday that a Sacramento hotel group is paying $10,000 to repeatedly air a 30-second message about the Kings on the giant video board above Times Square beginning Tuesday. The story says the video will be shown every five minutes for 72 hours.