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: Feb 20, 2007
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:18 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

I think they should look to larger markets carrying two teams - Seattle has population of roughly 610,000 people and they had their chance.  Chicago's Cook county alone has over 5 million people.  If you threw the team in Chicago's western suburbs away from Cook County - you would draw on a population of over 2.5 million people from Dupage / Kane / Will and McHenry counties alone. The total Chicago metro area is home to over 10 million people.  Bring on the second team, drop it in the far west suburbs and away we go.

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: February 26, 2012 7:55 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

It has been a long time since St. Louis has had a basketball team.  Can't rightly figure that out. Or if not St. Louis, why not Kansas City? I mean NO couldn't make it with the Jazz and Maravich, why would you expect anything different now?  Maybe Cinci deserves another shot.

Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:45 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

We wont loan you the money to build a new arena....

Nor will we let you relocate your team to an area where they will build you a new arena and support your team.......

We will restrict your trades if we deem them to give 1 team or another too much talent we will prevent it from happening.  But if this trade will favor one of our darlin teams (heat, Lakers, Knicks) thats ok........

But we dont want to run your team....

We just tell you what you can and cant do who you can and cant trade and where you can and cannot do business. 

Uhhh the only thing the NBA isnt doing to run the teams is sign the paychecks.

Stearn is a joke.

Since: May 15, 2007
Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:44 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

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. 

Uh...what? I don't know what news you were paying attention to, but all I remember is Seattle throwing a fit that Clay Bennett was going to move the team over their objections. Their issue was that they thought it was B.S. that the owner hold taxpayers ransom to try and force them into paying for the entirety of a stadium that he was going to profit from. Maybe the Sonics had greater trouble selling tickets than in the '80s and '90s, but that doesn't mean that "Seattle fans couldn't wait for the team to be shipped out."

Since: Jan 8, 2008
Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:04 pm

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

stern is such a punk they would seriously have the NBA fund a team long enough for someone to buy it then actually let them relocate to seattle where we have a plan in place for a new arena that would be big enough for an NHL team and an NBA team?? some mentioned it earlier and they were spot on, stern wants a league of 4 NYY Yankee ball clubs and 26 pittsburg pirates that will draft players, develop them, and have them leave for LA, NY, or miami

Since: Jun 4, 2007
Posted on: February 26, 2012 1:20 pm

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.  

Since: Feb 26, 2012
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:44 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:22 am

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Baltimore NEEDS an NBA Team!

we have a winning Football team!

we have a baseball team with a winning pedigree, although recently things havent exactly been that way, but we've got multiple world series titles here
2/3 ain't bad, but the Orioles are garbage. They haven't won the division since 97, won the pennant since 83, and only sell out when they play the Yankees or Red Sox. Their ownership group is awful. That being said, it doesn't justify not having a NBA team. 

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. 

New team altogther?
Laughable. Never going to happen. The NBA is already diluted enough. 

Since: Jan 23, 2012
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:07 am

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Baltimore NEEDS an NBA Team!

we have a winning Football team!

we have a baseball team with a winning pedigree, although recently things havent exactly been that way, but we've got multiple world series titles here

yes the Bullets moved to Washington in the late 70's but that doesnt mean jack...I will punch you in the throat if you say the Wizards are our team...they're as much our team as the Redskins and the Nats

DAVID STERN GET A TEAM TO BALTIMORE ASAP!  Hornets?  Kings?  New team altogther?  Dont Care, long as its NBA basketball 

Since: Sep 28, 2009
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:02 am

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Stern needs to go!!  Thief!!  Along with his accomplice Clay Bennet.

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