Blog Entry

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:20 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 9:26 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver

ORLANDO -- No new teams, no relocating teams if at all possible, and a few moments of appreciation for the majesty of world-class arenas.

Those were the takeaway business points from NBA commissioner David Stern, who held his annual press conference before All-Star Saturday, addressing a crowd of more than 100 reporters inside Orlando's new Amway Center. He was joined by deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who spoke up briefly on his particular areas of expertise during the roughly 34 minutes of questions and answers.

There weren't many surprises, and Stern stuck with his customary optimistic tone.

"We had this thing called a lockout," Stern said. "But the recovery has been spectacular for us, and the results of the collective bargaining agreement with the expected leveling of the playing field, and the ability for well‑managed teams to both compete more than our teams have had the opportunity to compete, by some combination of the hugely enhanced revenue sharing and the much larger luxury tax. So we're thinking that we're in for a treat over the years as this situation continues to improve."

But much of the nitty-gritty of the press conference was about tying up some of the uglier loose ends facing the league on the business side. Stern addressed an array of topics related to the league's teams, including ongong arena negotiations in Sacramento, the potential sale of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, the possibility of an NBA return to Seattle, the New Jersey Nets' upcoming move to Brooklyn, and whether or not the NBA would consider expanding the league past its 30 current teams. Here's Stern's thoughts on each, one by one.

Sacramento Kings

The future of the Kings, who nearly relocated to Anaheim last year and have been hard at work to fund a new arena in Sacramento, drew more questions than any other topic, including New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

"Write this down: life is a negotiation," Stern said, delivering the night's most memorable quip.

Stern met with Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson on Saturday with talks expected to continue on Sunday, including representatives from the NBA, Johnson's office, the Maloofs and members of the league's Relocation Committee.

"We have several remaining points that will not necessarily be guaranteed to be bridged, but we're going to give it our best shot tomorrow," Stern said. "We all consider ourselves to have a March 1 deadline to either come up with a financing plan and a critical path to the construction of the arena or not."

Stern said that the NBA would not help "bridge the gap" by loaning money to the Kings. He also said both sides were invested considerably in the negotiations, but that doesn't necessarily mean a deal will eventually be reached.

"The Maloofs have stepped up, the City has stepped up," he said. "We're having very intense conversations.  Sometimes the best‑intentioned and most fervent workers don't quite get to the finish line because there are things that separate them... We're going to see whether we can bridge that gap.  I think both sides deserve it, particularly the City of Sacramento." 

Why hasn't a deal been struck yet?

"The City would like the Maloofs to make the largest ‑‑ both have come up with very substantial contributions.  It's really getting there.  It's just not there yet.  And we're looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap ... It's coming down to money after all of this?  Yeah."

The sale of the New Orleans Hornets

On Friday, reports surfaced that California businessman Raj Bhathal is leading a group into exclusive negotiations to purchase the league-owned Hornets with a deal expected to be struck in the near future. Bhathal would reportedly agree to keep the Hornets in New Orleans.

On Saturday, Stern declined to confirm that Bhathal was the individual involved in the exclusive negotiations, but he did confirm that one of two groups interested in purchasing the Hornets is being given priority in the negotiations. He also said that he was "optimistic" that a deal will be reached between the two sides.

"We are in discussions with one group," Stern said. "We have another group in sort of second place, waiting to see how we do with group one.  We're optimistic that we will make a deal with group one."

Stern said a deal with the new owners cannot be made until the NBA reaches a deal with Louisiana on naming rights for the Hornets' arena, which is expected in the near future.

"We're a little bit behind here because we haven't concluded our deal with the State yet, but I think it's moving closer day by day," he said. "It's progressing well, but it's not finished.  We expect to have it finished, I'm told, in the next week or ten days, and that's the period of time that we would like to hopefully have this deal for the sale of the club come into much sharper focus. 

An NBA return to Seattle?

In recent weeks, the city of Seattle and investor Chris Hansen have made some noise about building an arena in Seattle in hopes of landing a team to replace the SuperSonics, who relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. Stern confirmed that he had been in contact with Hansen regarding the plans but he seemed to place some distance between the league and Hansen's plans. 

"Chris, who I had met about a year ago, called us two weeks ago to tell us what was going to be announced that Thursday, about a letter laying out a plan, and we thought it was a ‑‑ it sounded okay to us" Stern said. "Go for it. That's all."

Stern then said that his goal was to restrict the number of teams that would be available for relocation. 

"Right now what I'm working hard to do, in a perverse kind of a way, from Seattle's perspective, is to sell New Orleans to stay in New Orleans, and get a building for Sacramento that will enable the Kings to stay in Sacramento.  I can't say for sure [that a new arena in Seattle is] a pathway [to a replacement for the Sonics], but I will say that the only way to have a team these days is to have a world‑class building."

The New Jersey Nets' move to Brooklyn

Stern got back into salesman mode when discussing the upcoming move of the New Jersey Nets to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2012-2013 season. He lauded the building and sounded genuinely excited about a transformed rivalry between the Nets and the Knicks.

"We are very happy for Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov that this building has not only risen from the ground, but it's going to be indoors, completely pretty soon, and it's going to be on time and opening," Stern said. "It is great for Brooklyn.  It is great for the Knicks.  We're going to have a spectacular rivalry. And it's going to be great for the fans of New York City and the NBA to have that kind of a rivalry and that kind of a new building."

Expansion / International Exhibitions

Asked whether the NBA had plans to add any teams, Stern ruled out any new North American franchises.

"I just don't see a North American addition," he said. "We're at 30, and we've got teams that we are working hard on to keep in their cities, to make strong through revenue sharing in our system, to grow their value, their fan base and the like."

Stern then mentioned the possibility, raised in previous years, of an expansion to Europe, before passing the microphone to Silver.

"We'll see," Silver said, with a smile that indicated you shouldn't hold your breath.

Rather than expanding, Stern and Silver mentioned plans to increase exhibitions and regular season games to be played internationally. No definitive plans were set, but both London and Shanghai were mentioned as possible destinations. London was previously scheduled to host two NBA games before the lockout schedule killed those plans.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:28 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

bronzoo, if Seattle was such an attractive place for an NBA teasm, why didn't some of your Microsoft billionaires buy the Sonics instead of letting them be sold to an out of state owner? maybe they could see the writing on the wall that Seattle would not replace dilapidated Key Arena...
Because Howard Schultz is not intelligent? Can I use that as an excuse? He could've sold the team to a Microsoft higher-up (the name escapes me), but he sold to Bennett instead. Major failure on his part. I had really no problem with Key Arena. David Stern sure did, though. I'm kind of a sucker for old, beat-up arenas, though. 

Since: Jul 5, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 5:00 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

I would have no issues with Seattle getting another team!  After being screwed over by the dude from Starbucks (a loser and I still recommend boycotting Starbucks)...its only right to have another team there and call them the Seattle Super Sonics.  It sure would be nice to have a few of the players back to...Durant has turned into a true professional and he will someday be the complete talk of the NBA.  A great kid who is loving what he does for a living!  I love watching OKC...but they would look better in Green and Gold.

As for Microsoft stepping in at the right time and saving the Sonics...lets see...Paul Allen owns the Seahawks and the Trailblazers...and Bill Gates...he is just a computer geek!  I wish he would have followed the footsteps of Paul Allen and saved the Sonics. 

As for KC having a they get to bring back Nate Archibald.  One of the smallest but most exciting players I have ever seen.  I remember watching him against the Sonics.  Nate 'the skate" was incredible! 

But I must admit...I have never trusted Stern after he approved the buying of the Sonics in the first place.  I really dont think it matters what Seattle does, the chances of getting a team is slim to none with Stern in charge or influencing the NBA. 

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:29 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Although my plan may be unpopular with the NBA and the masses, I would like to put it out there because it does make sense:

Assuming the Hornets remain in NO, I would like to propose the leagues to 1) EXPAND to 32 teams, targeting Seattle and KC/STL and 2) realign the league into 4 divisions of 8 teams apiece (going back to the original divisions Pacific, Midwest, Central, Atlantic).  The league would look like the following:

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Divsion: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn), Washington, Orlando, Miami, Toronto
Central Division:  Chicago, Detroit, Indiana, Atlanta, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Memphis, Cleveland

Western Conference
Midwest Division:  KC/STL, Minnesota, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Denver
Pacific Division:  LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Phoenix, Golden State, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Utah

The 82-game scheule would still be used with the breakdown as follows:
32 games against opposite conference (home and home)
28 games against division foes
22 games against opposite division

What do you guys think?

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:25 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

New Orleans HEAVILY supported the Jazz before they moved. The team set attendance records that took years to break. The fact of the matter is that the owner was from L.A. and he got tired of having to go back and forth between L.A. and Nola so he moved the team to Salt Lake City (where we all know that Jazz is the preferred choice of music) so he could see his team.

Please check your facts. As for as support for the Hornets, the city of New Orleans has met and exceeded all season ticket sales goals since returning to NOLA after Hurricane Katrina.  Once a new owner is in place, there is a bill in the legislature for a lease on the arena for 10 additional years which carries a No Escape clause.

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: February 27, 2012 11:27 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

okaces- I remember. However, I think you will find that the population of the KC metropolitan area has probably close to doubled since the 1970's
This doesn't mean they will support, but it does mean they are better able to support. Maybe fans from Knsas City Ks  migh even show up.

Since: Oct 20, 2011
Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:10 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

bronzoo, if Seattle was such an attractive place for an NBA teasm, why didn't some of your Microsoft billionaires buy the Sonics instead of letting them be sold to an out of state owner? maybe they could see the writing on the wall that Seattle would not replace dilapidated Key Arena...

Since: Oct 20, 2011
Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:03 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Troy, guess you can't remember the 70's when Kansas City had the Royals(now the Kings). ou didnot support them mthen and its doubtful you would now. only the Chiefs prosper in KC...

Since: Feb 10, 2012
Posted on: February 27, 2012 1:48 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

I genius at work..

"Baltimore is at most 3rd or 4th on the list of cities that deserve a NBA team (I'm 99% sure the NBA considers the Wizards their local team). Obviously Seattle is the premier choice. If Stern grows a pair and has any semblance of decency, he'd move the Thunder back to Seattle and the Hornets to OKC. That would be poetic justice....and a big pipe dream. Stern is only interested in the almighty dollar."

Do you have the statistics that claim that Baltimore is the 3rd or 4th more deserved NBA team??  Do you honestly think the Hornets would move to Seattle with the support they showed for the SuperSonics which the&nbs
p;fans are the main reason they left?  If the thinking that moving the Thunder back to Seattle and the Hornets back to Oklahoma is a good answer (considering that Seattle and New Orleans had NBA teams long before Oklahoma did making you alienating New Orleans) than why not move the Ravens back to Cleveland (the real Ravens franchise a.k.a. the real Browns) and move the Browns to Batltimore?  Or move the Ravens to Seattle and move the Seahawks to Baltimore?  I think I like those scenarios much better especially with moving the Ravens back to Cleveland. 

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:16 am

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

So much hate for no reason. The owner of Seattle wanted out, so he got OKC. So what? Hate all you want...but I remembered when this happened that most Seattle fans couldn't wait for the team to be shipped out. Now you want them back because they have the best record in the NBA? Sorry...don't work that way. 

You'd be fortunate that Stern is giving heavy consideration for the Hornets to move to Seattle. All of a sudden, you want OKC back because they are doing well. Nothing but fickle fans and hate. The demise in Seattle was set years before the move...and most of the blame had to do with the fans' lack of support. No different than the former Charlotte Hornets, whom fans deplore the Bobcats to change their team's name back to the Hornets. Never ever going to happen. If you can't support what you got, then move on and don't watch the NBA. I'm sure Stern and the NBA are doing just fine without you.  
People don't want them back because they have the best record in the NBA, they want them back because they are theirs to begin with. When your new owner dumps off your team's top 2 players, alienates the fanbase, and ultimately relocates the team because they're not making enough $$$...who really should be blamed? The locals or management? 

In the end I would have had a lesser problem with the move if Bennett had made a good faith effort to make the team work in Seattle. He simply didn't and Stern didn't hold him accountable.  

Since: May 1, 2008
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:14 pm

NBA Outlook: Teams, Divisions and Conferences

The NBA needs to reconnect with it's fan base, strengthen the divisions and create regional rivalries within those markets. The fan base is there, but there needs to be a commitment on the part of the owners and players. A unified effort to regain the interest of the fan and capture the energy of the cities and areas the NBA play in.

That said, the NBA needs to bring back the Seattle Sonics and reform a strong Northwest Division with Portland and Seattle, Minnesota, Utah and Denver. The team that moves, Toronto Raptors. The ownership group can sell or keep the team and hold on to the Raptors by turning it into the D-League team for the Sonics. And if the NBA is serious about international expansion, Canada is a good start for a five team division, starting with the Toronto Raptors. In the least, a Canadian D-League for NBA owners?

The Pacific Division stays intact, the Kings stay in Sacramento and the Clippers get that shiny new stadium in Anaheim. With no movement in the Central Division either.

This opens the door to re-organize the rest of the divisions and make some sense out of the NBA. Washington moves into the Atlantic Division and New Orleans shifts into the Eastern Conference with it's move to the Southeast Division; Oklahoma City takes the Hornets spot and moves to the great Southwest. Creating solid divisions, with teams now in their true regional areas. Think of the possibilities. Just looking at the mock map of a re-organized NBA makes me excited, it simply makes sense.

Take a look at the mock map of the NBA Teams, Divisions and Conferences >>



All of this made possible by making one bold move.

Sounds good to me.

Notes: The All-Star Weekend; The dunk contest is a great part of the events, dunking changed the game of basketball forever and needs to be represented. Only problem, the actual All-Stars need to step up! Love the skills challenge and Three-Point Contest, they are simple, to the point, and the stars showed up. Don't know what to say about the Shooting Stars Competition, a cloudy night sky. A good example of where the players, stars, can help promote the NBA and have fun doing it.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or