Update 6:15 — This tweet from Tony Bizjak, a writer for the Sacramento Bee.
6:03 PM — A good thing happened today. A city with no other major professional sports franchise kept their team. A fan base with nearly 30 years of history kept their team. A good thing happened today.
By now the news has circulated through most outlets that the chances of the Sacramento Kings moving to Seattle took a major hit today when the relocation committee recommended that the Kings remain in Sacramento, and not move to Seattle. The rest of the NBA owners must vote on this, but historically such a vote has been little more than a formality.
For many fans this has become a debate of the merits of Seattle and Sacramento as cities. The problem with that attitude is that the cities aren’t on a level playing field. The cities aren’t duking it out for an expansion team. Rather, they’re duking it out for something that belonged to Sacramento last year. They’re duking it out over something that has belonged to Sacramento for 28 years. Most importantly though, Sacramento is facing what most Sonics fans thought was inevitable for Seattle five years ago: an infinite amount of time with no NBA team.
Seattle didn’t get bested today. They were just not the beneficiaries of a really bad thing.
This doesn’t mean that Seattle is out of the NBA picture. For NBA owners to turn down a $525 million valuation of a struggling team, with a solid arena plan in place in any city is pretty powerful, and probably speaks to a larger future plan.
It’s perfectly rational to think that the NBA is doing this so as to keep the NBA in Sacramento, but also to prevent future ownership groups from holding the NBA and their team’s cities hostage like the Maloofs have done. If Christopher Hansen values the Kings at $525 million and expansion team figures to be similarly valuable to the ownership group. And while the NBA has been reluctant to expand, a lot of that ostensibly had to do with the shrinking team values. Expanding by two teams and adding $1 billion or more in value to the NBA in new teams, but undoubtedly increasing the appraised value of several other NBA teams is likely a different equation than the one that the NBA has been operating under.
David Stern is a jerk, and we’ve known that for a long time. However, the NBA relocation committee is headed by Clay Bennett, who has been a public advocate for the city of Seattle, and David Stern has shown that the league’s bottom line is the most important thing to him, and Chris Hansen has shown a desire to add to the league’s bottom line. It’s hard to believe that the NBA would flatly decline the opportunity to fold Hansen, Steve Ballmer, and the Nordstroms into the NBA.
There are almost certainly things that we don’t know. One of those things may or may not be that the NBA is looking into the possibility of expanding into Seattle. If the league considers it at all, they Kansas City and to a lesser extent Virginia Beach have already shown to be contenders for any available team.
I’d encourage all Sonics fans to remain positive. If the NBA gives Seattle an expansion team then this is the closest realistic thing to a perfect scenario as it relates to Seattle regaining a team.
If Seattle gets an expansion team you can enjoy them guilt free. If they don’t a plenty deserving city of Sacramento retains their team.