After months of discussion about the likely relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Anaheim, the tables have apparently turned.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the Kings are now "expected" to remain in Sacramento for the 2011-2012 NBA season, citing NBA officials.
NBA officials now expect the Kings to play next season in Sacramento, league executives told The Times on Friday.
Whether the team, which was about to seek permission to move to Honda Center in Anaheim, stays in Sacramento beyond next season remains to be decided.Fan efforts in Sacramento to keep the Kings have been ongoing for months. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA point guard, has also been instrumental in presenting the city's case for keeping the team, appealing to the NBA's Boad of Governors to reconsider the merits of the Kings' relocation proposal.
NBA commissioner David Stern says that Johnson's presentation provided significant new information, and the Times writes that it was essentially a game-changer.
"Mayor Johnson made certain representations about community support that he had secured," Stern said.
The NBA officials agree that if the Kings live up to all of their pledges, the team is expected to stay in Sacramento long-term.
When Johnson presented his lavish package with the Is dotted, the Ts crossed, the timetable specific and the funding package appearing to be credible, everything changed.The Maloof family, which owns the Kings, has until May 2 to present its case for relocation, a date that exists after two extensions were already granted by the league. They could still pursue the relocation option, but it's possible the NBA's Relocation Committee wouldn't approve their proposal.
Three sources told CBSSports.com's Ken Berger Friday night that NBA officials, led by Thunder owner Clay Bennett, have not informed the Kings or the city of Sacramento of any final decision on assertions made by Mayor Kevin Johnson to the Board of Governors about the city's renewed push to keep the Kings. Berger notes in an email:
One of the sources said a key component missing from plan, which includes additional sponsorships and a push for a new arena, is financing.
"Where is the financing?" one source said. "Where is the money?"
League officials are expected to convene with city officials Monday to complete the fact-finding mission. One of the sources told CBSSports.com said all signs point to a positive referendum on Sacramento's efforts to keep the team, but added, "It's not there yet."
The Maloofs, clearly frustrated with the 11th-hour effort after 13 years of unsuccessful attempts to get similar commitments from the city, have not yet made a decision on whether to apply for relocation to Anaheim by the extended May 2 deadline.
"We're anxious to look at what Kevin Johnson has been able to accomplish since he made a lot of assertions about the Sacramento market," co-owner Joe Maloof told CBSSports.com. "After the NBA does its due diligence, we'll evaluate it and go forward. But we have not made any decision one way or another."The Sacramento Bee reported Friday that Joe Maloof denied the L.A. Times report, saying that nothing has been decided yet. "That is not what we are saying," Maloof told the paper. "We haven't said what we are going to say. We'll let you know when we know."
The Associated Press quoted Gavin's brother Joe with the same "no decision yet" message on Friday.
Maloof told The Associated Press on Friday that no decision has been made and he's "as anxious as anybody" to find out if Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promise for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena.
"I don't know that Kevin Johnson's meeting in New York swayed the NBA one way or another, but I think that the NBA next week is going to go into Sacramento to verify a lot of the promises Kevin Johnson made to the board," Maloof said. "There were various sponsorship promises and a promise to show the board, once and for all, how a new arena not only will be planned, but financed."SI.com also reported the decision has not yet been made but noted that things are looking "very good" for Sacramento.
After speaking to several highly-involved sources, I would say that it's still looking very good for Sacto but no decision yet. Maloofs are still considering Anaheim, according to sources. NBA's further investigation into mayor Kevin Johnson's claims next week.It's telling, however, that there is no current plan to analyze Anaheim situation further on part of the NBA.Will they be the Sacramento Kings or the Anaheim Royals next season? That remains to be seen. But all the logistics involved in executing a relocation means the clock is ticking for Anaheim. Any delay or hiccup from here on out favors Sacramento.