NBA relocation committee meets today, before key vote

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SEATTLE — A vote by the NBA’s Board of Governors that could finally settle the Seattle/Sacramento battle for the Kings is expected to come Wednesday in Dallas.

The two days preceding that vote, though, could loom just as critical.

Several media outlets, including NBA.com, reported the league’s combined finance and relocation committee will hold a conference call Monday to begin hashing out the latest developments in the saga.

The most notable of those are an increased offer by the Seattle group Friday, and then the revelation Saturday that the Chris Hansen-led contingent has reached agreement on a backup offer with the team’s current owners, the Maloof family, for 20 percent of the team if the NBA turns down the Seattle group’s bid to be a majority owner.

It has also been reported the relocation committee will meet in person in Dallas on Tuesday, likely hearing presentations from each of the competing ownership groups.

It was the seven-person relocation committee that voted unanimously April 29 to recommend the Board of Governors not allow the Kings to move.

Hansen responded to that vote by vowing he would continue to fight in an effort to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle.

His recent moves to raise the overall value of the team to $625 million and also offer a $115 million relocation fee and make the backup deal with the Maloofs have muddied the waters, with several reports that NBA owners are again rethinking whether to allow the Kings to move to Seattle.

Selling 20 percent of the team to Hansen, for a reported $125 million, would give the Maloofs some money while allowing them to keep the team for now and, as ESPN.com reported, “apply pressure on the city of Sacramento to execute an arena deal with them.” If that deal fell through, then the team could again apply for relocation.

Hansen’s latest maneuvers came a few days after Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had said Hansen should “take the high road” and “step back.”

Predictably, Hansen’s weekend moves were widely criticized in Sacramento, especially the new deal with the Maloofs, who are said to want to sell the team only to the Seattle group.

“Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer seem to assume everyone can be bought,” wrote Sacramento Bee columnist Ailene Voisin.

Wrote another Sacramento Bee columnist, Marcus Breton: “Even in an ego-driven business like the NBA, the posture of Hansen — and Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft — is preposterous. These two are going to war with the NBA — with the Maloofs as co-conspirators.”

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com also sharply criticized Hansen’s latest moves, including the relocation fee, which gives each owner roughly $4 million, writing: “The NBA would be setting a precedent for future prospective owners that it’s OK to circumvent the league’s constitution and bylaws and simply continue throwing money at them until they say yes.”

Berger predicted it won’t work, writing: “The owners on the relocation committee can’t change their minds, unless they want to sign off publicly on accepting a bribe.”

The members of the relocation committee are: Clay Bennett (Thunder), Ted Leonsis (Wizards), Micky Arison (Heat), Greg Miller (Jazz), Herb Simon (Pacers), Glen Taylor (Timberwolves) and Peter Holt (Spurs).

The finance committee features: James Dolan (Knicks), Wyc Grousbeck (Celtics), Larry Tanenbaum (Raptors), Jeanie Buss (Lakers) and Robert Sarver (Suns).

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