NBA Commissioner David Stern said Friday that league committees will meet late next week to vote on a recommendation on the Sacramento Kings sale and possible move to Seattle, but a final vote by the owners will be at least two weeks away.
Under the NBA constitution, the owners get at least seven business days to review the committee recommendations. A vote by the full NBA Board of Governors could then take place as soon as the week of May 6, with Stern indicating the owners will first decide on whether they would be willing to approve relocation.
Pressure was added Friday when the Maloof family sent the NBA a letter, asking the league to approve the sale of the Kings to Chris Hansen’s Seattle ownership group. Both Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said that still speed up the process.
Stern also said the Sacramento bid is "in the ballpark" financially with the deal from a Seattle group headed by Chris Hansen, though the Maloof family disputed that in a letter to the advisory and finance committee.
The Maloofs' letter dated April 17 said the Sacramento group originally matched the $525 million valuation for the franchise agreed to by Hansen, whose group includes Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer. Then last week, Hansen increased the valuation offer to $550 million.
Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said after the meetings, "We gotta speed this up, we know that" and that there were only a "bunch of little things" that needed to be addressed.
NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver added that "while we would have liked to have seen it move faster, we can't shortcut this process that requires the committee to meet, the committee to consider various factors that are laid out in the constitution, the committee to then deliberate and make a recommendation, the report then to be issued. Seven business days then have to pass and then the NBA Board of Governors votes. So there's no shortcutting of that process."
Stern added that when the NBA Draft Lottery happens May 21, the card will either say Kings or Sonics.
Stern denied that he is trying to influence the owners on which way to vote.
“At the end of the day, the committee, which is going to meet next week, will have to take a vote and decide what to do,” said Stern.
He said owners are "deliberating quite conservatively and deliberately" because the league has never faced anything like this battle between the two West Coast cities.
"This has been wrenching," Stern said, adding that "it's the only time in the last 37, 47 years that I haven't known the answer."
One offer was not more viable than the other, Stern said, but admitted the Sacramento offer is not as complete as it eventually will be. He said the league is also looking at the temporary facilities in both cities while new arenas are built. If the Kings move to Seattle this fall, they would have to play at least two seasons in KeyArena.
The Maloofs said the Sacramento group has asked not to enter into a binding agreement until the Seattle deal is terminated. The Maloofs said that would be a breach of contract and cost them the "leverage to aggressively renegotiate terms in the event the existing agreement is terminated."
In January, the Maloofs reached an agreement to sell a 65 percent controlling interest in the Kings to Hansen's group at the total franchise valuation of $525 million, topping the NBA-record $450 million that Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Golden State Warriors for in 2010. Then Hansen increased his offer to $550 million, which implies selling the 65 percent stake for about $357 million.
If a vote is taken at some point in the next couple weeks, the Seattle group needs 23 of 30 owners to approve the sale of the team. A simple majority -- 16 votes -- is all that's needed to approve relocation.
"There's no attempt to get any unanimity. There's only an attempt to get answers to every possible, any possible question that various owners have, and then they'll vote however they vote, period," Stern said.
The commissioner has said previously that the sale of the Kings would not become a bidding war. And yet, a bidding war is exactly what seems to have broken out.