Stern goes Mutombo on Mastrov bid, rules out expansion in Bay Area

NBA commissioner David Stern made a trip out to Oakland to talk up the Warriors as a “model franchise” and the team’s trip next fall to China, where they’ll play preseason games against the Lakers. Stern’s event had another large contingent of media from Sacramento, who wanted to hear Stern’s take on last week’s bid to save the Kings by Mark Mastrov and company. NBA Commissioner David Stern says Sacramento bid is “not quite there” financially compared to Seattle. He’s hopeful it will be eventually. To ensure that Sacramento lines up its (final?) bid properly, the NBA will hold a meeting on April 3 so that everyone has their ducks in a row in advance of the Board of Governors meetings on April 12-13.

That, folks, marks the end of the short period of Stern as bystanding non-arbiter. In case anyone thought that this was about anything other than getting the biggest, best bid possible for the sale of the Kings, it isn’t. The owners want to see their franchise values grow. If the McCourt disaster did it for baseball franchises, the Maloof debacle could certainly do it for hoops. Earlier this week a rumor was floated that the Hansen-Ballmer group might have to pay a $75 million relocation fee, instead of an amount closer to the $30 million Clay Bennett paid to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City. The owners want their piece, and David Stern’s last major effort as the commissioner will be to facilitate that. The man has played the whole thing perfectly. Now, the NBA and the bidders have kept the details close to their respective vests, so we can’t say for certain how low the bid was or how much it needs to be raised. I know this much: Mastrov put in a $420 million bid for the Warriors nearly three years ago. Stern and the owners know that Mastrov can raise capital, whether they’re bidding for 100% or 65% of the Kings. Fortunately for the Sacramento bid, there’s a few weeks left to raise the bid. Now it’s a lot like competing bids for a house in a seller’s market. The best offer with the most cash wins. You know what they say on the court: Come strong or don’t come at all.

Stern was also asked about the chances of a second Bay Area team coming via expansion if the Kings left, and he swatted that notion away. Stern left it to the Board of Governors (owners) and his successor to wrestle with that concept.

“I don’t think that we’re in for expansion of the league, any time soon. That’s just the way it is. … There are no territorial rights barriers. The only barrier is a vote by the NBA’s Board of Governors, but they’re being convened to consider the application to sell the Kings and to move the Kings.”

There’s no incentive to entertain talk of expansion as long as this bidding war – and it is indeed a bidding war – is on. Maybe after April the NBA and the losing city/bidder can talk about a framework to get an expansion or future relocated team. Chances are that even then, that losing city/bidder will be left to lick their wounds, and if it’s Sacramento/Mastrov, after having being on the losing end twice (last year for Sac when the Maloofs reneged, Mastrov in 2010 with the W’s), everyone may want to take some time to determine how much effort they want to put into this yet again. There’s just as much emotion that goes into these efforts as there is money.

I’ve thought that the horse race mentality that some of the Seattle and Sacramento partisans recently have taken on was silly, but this news  certainly makes the proceedings feel like a horse race. One of these cities will have a lot of broken hearts in early April.

11 thoughts on “Stern goes Mutombo on Mastrov bid, rules out expansion in Bay Area

  1. Stern should just say: Sorry your team is moving to Seattle to give the fans in Sacramento a chance to say good bye to the team.

    OT You know the owners want the team to move to Seattle. They would have a bigger pot to split the revenue 31 ways. Thank you Spirit of St Louis.

  2. All I can say is that every time that Mutombo commercial comes on, I lose a few more calories from laughing.
    All this drama is a bore.

  3. Both Seattle and Sacramento played the “Let the rich owners build their own arena!” game. Seattle lost its team as a result and it looks like Sacramento is next.

  4. @ ML – I think the headline of “..rules out expansion in Bay Area” seems a bit sensationalized. After all, Stern was stating that there were NO PLANS for ANY expansion whatsoever, be it the Bay Area or where ever. In other words, he’s being evasive on the subject as usual…

  5. O cmon Stern, Kevin Johnson has all the right pieces to get the Kings to stay…Seattle should focus on another team, I guess Seattle area has more money then Sac so I can see how the owners want to get more money out there. Sigh California needs to get their act together or we could see a football and baseball team (Raiders and A’s move outta state)

  6. PJK, Sacramento put up $255M for a new Arena a year ago. The asked the Maloofs to cover $72M. That is a miscarachterozation.
    But, beyond that… This is all about the franchise value. It’s true it will be worth more in Seattle, and from what I understand Sacramento has been banking on forgiving a loan to the Maloofs as a path to a discount to keep the team in Sacramento.
    I understand where they are coming from, but this isn’t about the better deal for the Maloofs. The league is looking at the impact a purchase price has on comparables… Just like a neighborhood wants any house on the market to go for top dollar.

  7. Holy cow. I promise I know how to spell.

  8. For years the Maloofs paid the luxury tax bill and lost money to keep the likes of Webber, Bibby, Stojakovic, Brad Miller etc….They paid top dollar in small market Sac to win….They were called at that time “great owners” who want to “win”. They had one of largest payrolls in the league during that time.

    Now they have been kicked and cursed by the same fans when asking for help to build a new arena. This plus the city would not step their game up and answer the Maloofs concerns about the new arena.

    You wonder why the Maloofs are selling to Hansen-Ballmer and not Mastrov or even Ron Burkle. They hate the city and its fans for not helping them out after all those years of paying top dollar for the team….The feeling goes both ways.

    Now I believe the Kings are gone despite KJ’s last ditch effort for these reasons:

    1. With the Kings gone the Warriors and and newly re-born SuperSonics get new TV deals that will boost the other teams values in the league. Some have said as much as 30M each team. Plus a small time relocation fee for each team to pocket. Plus 2 new arenas in two large metro areas become a far easier reality.

    2. You cannot have two different groups buy the team and then build an arena. It complicates revenue sharing between the groups. Mastrov and Burkle is a disaster waiting to happen because of this. In Seattle Hansen-Ballmer are not only buying the team but they are also building the arena. Same ownership buying the team and building the arena, not the case in Sacramento.

    3. KJ is the last reason, he should pick up the phone and call the Maloofs and beg them to sell to Mastrov. He seems to think in his convoluted head that he can go over the Maloofs head to the league. It worked when they tried moving to Anaheim. But in this case the Maloofs have the right to sell to anyone they please and NBA cannot stop it. The NBA can only “suggest” and not force the Maloofs to do anything. KJ thinks he can pull this off…he has already lost and just does not know it yet.

    The Kings are gone, it makes too much sense to move them. Money and common sense wise.

  9. Whatever Sid, maybe Sacramento might step up their offer during the next NBA owners meeting…not over till its over, and I believe mark Davis and lew Wolff will have a change of heart and invest in coliseum city. Right Sid?

  10. @ berry – “I believe mark Davis and lew Wolff will have a change of heart and invest in coliseum city.” Repeat after me…crack kills.

  11. I could go point-by-point with Sid, but it’s probably useless to do so. However, it looks like he’s got all the Stealattle talking points down pat.

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