Earlier this week, we noted that Sacramento-area businesses met with Mayor Kevin Johnson and NBA officials to pledge millions of dollars to help keep the Kings in Northern California. The team's owners, the Maloofs, are considering relocating the team to Anaheim.
The Sacramento Bee reports on Thursday that NBA officials met with the Maloofs on Wednesday and recommended that the team remain in Sacramento.
The source said the Maloof family, which owns the team, held talks Wednesday with several top NBA officials, including members of the league's relocation committee.
The Kings owners expressed appreciation for local businesses that have pledged $10 million in sponsorship support for next year, but also shared concerns about whether their finances can withstand several years of waiting for a new arena to be built, and whether Sacramento will be able to come up with an arena plan that is financially feasible, given past failures. NBA officials, in turn, told the Maloofs to stay in Sacramento.
The source said it appears unlikely at this point that team owners will come to a conclusion before Monday, the day set by NBA officials as the deadline for the team to request permission to relocate to Anaheim for next season.The NBA league office is usually hands off when it comes the decisions of its individual franchises and this situation is extraordinary is multiple ways. The NBA has raised capital on behalf of its team without the team owners present. The NBA has established a strong relationship with a prominent local politician, a relationship that apparently doesn't exist between the owners and the politician. The NBA and that politician are now aligned against the owners' desire to relocate the franchise. SI.com also reports this week that the politician has met with a billionaire sports team owner who has interested in purchasing the Kings with no intention of relocating them.
In other words, the pressure in mounting rapidly on the Maloofs. If they decide to continue with their relocation effort, they'll now be doing so against the league's recommendation, a critical factor that will certainly be a matter of discussion when the NBA's relocation committee convenes to discuss the matter. Moving into a market with two other NBA teams was already a tricky proposition, but it made a certain amount of sense financially. It will be difficult for the Maloofs to argue their dollars-and-cents case if the NBA has stepped in and made significant capital-raising progress in such a short amount of time.
The Maloofs now look like poor businessmen who didn't realize the opportunities available to them rather than solid businessmen who were stuck in a market that couldn't support an NBA team. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle but the clock is ticking and the Maloofs are losing leverage by the minute.