Kings owners get extension to file for relocation
NEW YORK – The NBA has granted the owners of the Sacramento Kings another extension until May 2 to file paperwork requesting a relocation to Anaheim.
Joe and Gavin Maloof were supposed to submit the documents by Monday, but the league's owners decided to delay that after hearing from Anaheim and Sacramento officials during two days of meetings that ended Friday.
Commissioner David Stern said the league wanted to "do a little bit more fact finding" after Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson told owners Thursday of additional revenue that had been identified, of the city's commitment to build a new arena, and revealed an interested potential buyer in Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle.
"So the committee thought that it would be a good idea to do a little bit more fact-finding and determine how this will ultimately play out," Stern said. "There's no agenda here; just to make sure that something as important to all parties as the transfer of a team to another city and the attempts of that city to keep that team was fully understood, fully briefed."
The Maloofs insist they won't sell, and Stern said the sale of the Kings, or another team to Burkle that would be moved to Sacramento if the Kings left, is "not a high priority on our agenda."
The relocation committee headed by Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett, who moved the SuperSonics from Seattle three years ago, will research some of the assertions made by Johnson and the potential for success in Anaheim while competing against the Lakers and Clippers. The panel also will recommend a relocation fee the Maloofs would have to pay should they move.
Though eyebrows were raised with Bennett's appointment because of the Sonics' contentious departure to his home state of Oklahoma, Stern said there was no conflict and that Bennett had been chosen because he has been active in the Kings' situation and other league business.
"Maybe Sacramento will think ... — although I don't — that (Bennett) favors movement. In this case, he favors what's best for the league and the Kings," Stern said during a conference call.
Stern said Sacramento's problem was the outdated Power Balance Pavilion, not its market size. Johnson told owners Thursday that the city is committed to building a new entertainment center even if the Kings leave.
Stern seemed dubious, noting that the discussion of a new building in Sacramento is "usually an eye-roller" at the league because there's been no progress toward it for years. But Johnson's meeting also included a report from the group conducting the feasibility study for a new arena that should be completed by next month, and it made enough of an impression for the Maloofs and Bennett to recommend the extension.
"It was just felt that this was a good presentation and we should delve a little bit more to understand what its ramifications are," Stern said.
This is the second time the Kings have received an extension. The NBA usually requires teams to request permission to relocate for the following season by March 1.
Johnson took the latest extension as a positive sign for Sacramento. He also said it will allow for the feasibility study on a new arena to be near completion by the next deadline and allow for NBA owners to consider the city's plan.
"We bought more time," Johnson said by phone Friday night. "It suggests that our strategy and presentation acheived our intended goals. I'm very pleased on that. But I'm not declaring victory by any means, and there's nothing that's stopping the Maloofs from continuing to explore their relocation efforts."
Johnson also believes his pitch at the meeting intrigued other NBA owners who may be considering blocking a Kings move, but he couldn't tell for certain which way they may be leaning.
"The filing postponed and delayed until May 2 may be the best indication of what (owners) were thinking," he added.
Once the Maloofs do apply, owners would have to approve the move by a majority vote. Stern said the delay would not hinder their ability to play in Anaheim next season, pointing out how quickly the Hornets were transplanted from New Orleans to Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina.
He wouldn't predict how things would end, but hopes the committee can finish its work in two more weeks.
"It was sort of like a timeout," Stern said. "This is difficult, let's take some time here to better understand it. This is very important. It's important to the Maloof family. It's important to (Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli) and the people of Anaheim, and it's important to Mayor Johnson and the people of Sacramento. And so the committee wanted to do some work."
AP Sports Writer Antonio Gonzalez in San Francisco contributed to this story.