Kings dominate Stern’s last All-Star briefing

No new details on Sacramento against Seattle, though the next

All-Star decision might be New York versus New York.

NBA Commissioner David Stern fielded numerous questions Saturday

but provided little news about the future of the Sacramento Kings

during his last All-Star weekend press conference. A Seattle group

has reached an agreement to buy the team from the Maloof family

with the goal of moving it to the Northwest, and Sacramento Mayor

Kevin Johnson is trying to keep the Kings in California’s

capital.

Stern said owners will continue to discuss the plans and will

hear from Mayor Kevin Johnson with the goal of deciding at their

April board meeting. Without saying how, Stern said Sacramento has

a chance of beating out what he has said is a strong bid from the

Seattle group.

”Oh, certainly it’s plausible to me, but I don’t have a vote,”

Stern said. ”But I expect the owners to have a very open mind on

this. And it isn’t plausible yet to talk about it until the

predicates have been fulfilled.”

Stern plans to retire on Feb. 1, 2014, on what would be the 30th

anniversary of his appointment to the job. The 2014 game is going

to New Orleans, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the 2015

event is likely headed to either the Knicks’ Madison Square Garden

or the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Silver didn’t say when a decision would be made. The New York

bids are not the only ones the league is considering.

Sacramento may be out of the NBA business by then. A Seattle

group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer has reached an

agreement with the Maloof family to buy 65 percent of the

franchise, which is valued at $525 million, and move the team to

Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The deal will cost the

Hansen group a little more than $340 million.

Johnson has asked for and been granted a chance to deliver a

competing offer, which is expected by March 1, and to address the

board. And he insists his city has a ”competitive advantage”

because the NBA previously approved Sacramento’s financing plans

for a new arena last year when it thought it had brokered a deal

between the Maloofs and the city that the owners later pulled out

of.

”We’re going to deliver a brand new arena downtown. At the end

of the day, that’s a key variable and I think it gives us a

competitive advantage,” Johnson said in a separate press

conference. ”We have a deal that was approved by the NBA already,

where the city has a significant public investment that we’re

willing to put forward, to build a brand new arena. That’s a key

reason why unfortunately a team left Seattle and why teams do

leave, is you can’t get arena deals done.”

Stern was asked if the decision will come down strictly to the

arena deal.

”This is strictly about what the owners decide,” he said.

”There’s a great and strong application from a terrific city to

bring in a third and possibly a fourth team in a brand-new

building, well-financed ownership group, without the ability yet to

build, because there are several things that have to be overcome.

But that’s really good. So if you’re a commissioner, you like

that.”

Johnson came to Houston in hopes of gaining support for

Sacramento, though he and Stern have not met and there are no plans

for a meeting. His fight for the Kings contrasts somewhat with the

response Stern got from Washington politicians before the

SuperSonics eventually moved to Oklahoma City. Stern recalled that

the Seahawks and Mariners got public funding for new stadiums that

wasn’t available for the Sonics.

Stern said it ”saddened” him to depart because Seattle was a

great city, but that ”history was being rewritten” about the way

the NBA left it.

With reporters from both cities jamming the room where his press

conference was held, and occasionally appearing bored by their

repeated questions, Stern added he couldn’t see any scenario in

which both Seattle and Sacramento would be happy. He and Silver

both doubt expansion is something that would be considered

soon.

He said the committees which will decide in April have a

difficult choice.

”This is a good time to be a commissioner and not an owner,”

Stern said.