The fate of the Sacramento Kings will be decided quite soon. The NBA's Board of Governors has heard the proposals of both Chris Hansen's Seattle-based ownership group and the group of politicians and businessmen focused on keeping the club in Sacramento. There's more work to be done before the final vote on Hansen's offer, but it looks as if we'll have a resolution relatively soon.
In other words, the primary players can try to improve their offers, but they're mostly going to do a plot of waiting. Of course, that hasn't stopped current Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof from issuing a meaningless deadline to the Sacramento group. From Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis, and Dale Kasler for the Sacramento Bee:
The Maloof family has given the Sacramento investors seeking to buy the Kings until 5 p.m. Friday to submit a written, binding "back-up" offer that matches the deal the family has in place to sell the franchise to a group in Seattle, a source close to the deal told The Bee today.
The source told the Bee that if the Maloofs receive a matching offer by Friday, they will consider it as a serious back-up proposal should the NBA nullify their tentative deal with Seattle. If the offer doesn't arrive, or doesn't match the Seattle bid, the Maloofs have said any talks are off with the Sacramento group. The source declined further comment about who issued the ultimatum, when, or why. [...]
[F]ollowing presentations last week in New York from both sides, Stern said the discrepancy between the Seattle and Sacramento offers is no longer an issue.
Contacted for comment, Maloof family spokesman Eric Rose said, "Our policy is not to negotiate in public." [...]
The Sacramento group includes Silicon Valley software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, East Bay health-club financier Mark Mastrov, the Jacobs family of San Diego and Sacramento developer Mark Friedman.
As noted by local TV reporter Nick Monacelli notes, this is good news for Sacramento if only because the Maloofs are acknowledging the presence of a local group that can purchase the team. In past announcements, they have seriously acknowledged only the viability of the Seattle group. It's a step forward simply for them to be open to the idea of entertaining the offer.
On the other hand, issuing the ultimatum is a meaningless action conceived largely to present the Maloofs as holding more control over the situation than they actually do. Here's Carmichael Dave of the superlative Kings fansite Sactown Royalty:
When I asked 2 nights ago, if Maloofs could back out and choose Sac, Maloof source said "To be honest, not really in their hands anymore."
— Carmichael Dave (@CarmichaelDave) April 10, 2013
And Aaron Bruski of ProBasketballTalk backs up that line of thinking with his own report:
Source tells PBT that Sacto will not lose out on the Kings based on an offer.Maloof talk typical late-stage conniptions — Aaron Bruski (@aaronbruski) April 10, 2013
At this point in the process, the NBA has far more control over the franchise's fate than the Maloof family. We are on the brink of a sale to either the Seattle or Sacramento group, and the fact that David Stern seems open to both sides means that he can exert serious pressure over the Maloofs to sell. The Maloofs are setting abritrary deadlines because they like to seem in a position of power. As Kings fan and SB Nation's basketball savant Tom Ziller puts it, these are the last throes of despots.
We don't know where the Kings (or Sonics) will play next season, and this news doesn't clarify that situation in any meaningful way. What it does prove, for the nth time, is that the NBA will be a better place when the Maloofs no longer own a franchise.