A month ago I wrote about a solution to the Seattle-Sacramento fight over the Kings. It would’ve involved either keeping the team in town or moving them north, with the loser getting an expansion team. Key to the solution would be to use a portion of the expansion fee (~$500 million) to pay off the Silna brothers, who get a 3/5ths of a team share of the NBA’s national TV money even though they’ve never owned a NBA franchise.
While in Houston for All Star Weekend festivities, David Stern quashed any idea of an expansion-based solution that would provide teams in both cities. That’s not to say that expansion couldn’t be explored in the future. But for Stern, who is retiring just short of a year from now, it won’t happen on his watch.
For now, Stern has his sights set on two dates: March 15 as the deadline for Sacramento interests to submit a bid/plan for the Kings and a downtown arena, and April 18 for the Board of Governors meeting to hear everything out. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is in Houston to try to lobby other owners who are also taking in the festivities. As a former All Star player, KJ has a level of respect within the NBA that no other mayor can match. Whether that will mean anything in the end uncertain. KJ is not meeting with Stern during the weekend.
Stern has set the stage for the other owners to make a very tough decision. On one hand, many of them may want to correct the wrong that was allowing the Sonics to leave, and would love to have big money ownership like Steve Ballmer among their ranks. Yet they may not want to move the Kings from a market that has supported the team well despite the arena’s flaws and poor and mismanaged teams over the past several years.