As Sacramento & Seattle Battle For Kings, Uncertainty Looms For NBA


February 9, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings fans perform the crowd wave during the fourth quarter between the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings defeated the Jazz 120-109. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

What Sacramento and Seattle have done to lure (or in Sacramento’s case, keep) the Kings franchise has been nothing short of remarkable. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it once this is over – both cities are more than deserving of an NBA franchise and it’s nothing short of a travesty that one city will, at least according to the NBA, be a loser in this scenario.

You couldn’t ask Sacramento to do any more – especially in the extremely small window they were given. Add in the fact that this is essentially the second time they’ve had to put their money where their mouth is – I mean really, what else can they do? Every time they’ve been asked or requested to do something by the NBA, they’ve done it – will (cow)bells on. More than that – they did more than what they were asked. Much of the same can be said for Seattle, who never deserved to lose their Sonics in the first place.

This is an unprecedented scenario for all parties involved – Sacramento, Seattle, the NBA. They all know it. So why the two cities vie for the love of the NBA, David Stern and company appear to be – well – to be blunt, confused. This isn’t a scenario that they’ve seen before. When a team is up for sale or relocation, there is usually a reason for it. Call it poor attendance. Maybe an inability to get an arena deal complete. There’s always an underlying factor as to why a team is potentially on the move, but for Sacramento – they’ve done all of that. They’ve lead the league in attendance 19 of the past 28 years. They put together an arena deal with the NBA assisted on and vetted, until the Maloof family at the last moment ran with their tail between their legs because God forbid, they actually had to pay a dollar.

So now what? Apparently, not even the NBA knows. Per the Tacoma News Tribune:

"A source familiar with the Mastrov offer said it’s expected that the NBA will look over the proposal and forward it to the Maloofs, who have the right to “entertain” other offers as backups in case the NBA rejects the Seattle bid. Beyond that, the process isn’t quite clear.“It’s not like there’s a manual for how to do this,” the source said. “This is somewhat unprecedented in the history of the league.”"

What’s to come in the next six weeks or so will be a roller coaster of emotion with an undeserving side getting the shaft. For Sacramento, it would be like the league spitting in their face – doing everything they were asked and doing it to excess, yet, still being told it wasn’t good enough. For Seattle? It would be round number two – the second time the NBA gut punched them – both times, undeserving.

Of course, there’s the simple solution to this – expansion. The NBA says they wont due it. Members of the NBA’s Board of Governors, like the Lakers’ Jeanie Buss say it’s not an option. And I tend to agree with her and the many members of the BOG who feel the same way – but much like the uniqueness that is the Seattle/Sacramento saga, so is the idea of expansion in this scenario. There’s absolutely no doubt in anybody’s mind that both cities can easily support an NBA franchise. Both cities now have ownership groups that would crack into the upper echelon of NBA owners. Of course, the last thing any of the other owners want is somebody coming for their territory – a new wealthy ownership group is great (say like New Orleans), but one, let alone two who appear to be dead-set on building winners and doing it quickly? That gives fellow NBA owners night-sweats.

So here the NBA sits – unsure of what to do. As I said – there’s the obvious and right move. Does the NBA need to expand into Boise or Tuscaloosa? Of course not. But with two overly strong markets with two extremely well funded ownership groups and two brand new sparkling NBA arenas on the horizon? It’s not a difficult choice.

But as we’re all aware, the NBA likes to make things difficult on themselves. And if they have to step on somebody in the process – oh well. That’s big business for you.