The NBA's relocation committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend that owners reject the application for the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Seattle.
The committee, made up of 12 league owners, made the decision over a conference call and forwarded its recommendation to the NBA Board of Governors. The board, which consists of all 30 owners, will convene during the week of May 13 to vote on the matter.
Moments after the league announced the committee's recommendation, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnston wrote on Twitter: "That's what I'm talking about SACRAMENTO!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!"
The recommendation doesn't guarantee the Kings will stay in California's capital city. But at this point, it's difficult to imagine how they don't.
The Maloof family that owns the Kings reached an agreement in January to sell a 65 percent controlling interest in the team to a group led by investor Chris Hansen at the total franchise valuation of $525 million, topping the NBA-record $450 million that Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Golden State Warriors for in 2010. Then Hansen increased his offer to $550 million, which implies selling the 65 percent stake for about $357 million.
Hansen planned to move the team to Seattle and rename it the SuperSonics, who moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. Instead, those plans are now on hold.
It's unclear what the next step is for the Maloof family, which is not bound to sell the team to a Sacramento group Johnson has put together. In a letter sent to the relocation and finance committees, the Maloofs said they preferred to sell to the Seattle group and expressed discontent with Sacramento's latest bid.
Spokesmen for the Maloof family and Hansen had no immediate comment on the committee's recommendation.
Led by Johnson, Sacramento fought back to make the sale and relocation of the Kings tough for the league to recommend. He pushed a non-binding financing plan for a $447 million downtown arena through the Sacramento City Council - complete with a $258 million public subsidy - and lined up an ownership group to try to compete with the powerful Seattle contingent.
The potential Sacramento ownership group is led by TIBCO software chairman Vivek Ranadive, who would sell his minority share of the Warriors if successful. Others who have joined the bid include 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, former Facebook senior executive Chris Kelly and the Jacobs family that owns communications giant Qualcomm.
"I've never been prouder of this city," Johnson tweeted. "I thank the ownership group, city leaders, but most of all the BEST FANS IN THE NBA!!!
The mayor also commended Seattle for its effort and wrote that the Pacific Northwest city "no doubt deserves a team in the future."
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.