Sports with Art Thiel
5:00 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Sacramento or Seattle? Why NBA commish wants Kings to stay put

The battle between Seattle and Sacramento investors over the Kings basketball team has taken a few more turns. The most interesting one is the revelation that NBA commissioner David Stern appears to want to keep the team in Sactown.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel explains why.


Legacy

KING 5 first reported how Stern is working hard to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

Art says it's all about making money for owners - and crafting a strong legacy for Stern.

"I really do think that (David) Stern has an agenda to keep the team there because moving it in his final year would be his seventh relocation. This is not how he wants to go - to alienate another market. The collective bargaining agreement that the NBA achieved after its lockout is so important to Stern because he think every team can break even in a couple three years if they stay in place."

Seattle may suffer as a result of this.

"That would be his best legacy - to create a collective bargaining agreement that makes everybody break even or better. That would be a high achievement for a commissioner. And he wants to see the Kings be able to make it work in Sacramento more than he wants to please Seattle."

Expansion may be key for Seattle

Expansion still looms large in this battle. Art thinks it's still on the table as an option for Seattle.

"The NBA has said 'we're not ready for it.' But Stern has always couched it carefully. He's said 'right now.' I still think that expansion is a viable alternative. But Stern has to propose that because what he's asking of the owners is to take a smaller slice of the pie by inviting a new team in. The way he appeases them is by putting up an expansion fee to (Chris) Hansen of $500 million or more - the equivalent that he would've paid the Maloof family for the Kings is what his expansion fee price probably would be for a new team."

Can Seattle wait?

Art says lead Seattle investor Chris Hansen has said he's open to the idea of getting an NBA team through expansion.

"He told Seattle this was going to be a five-to-seven year process. Hansen is ready for it. Now, whether the consumer is ready for it...there are a whole lot of Seattle fans here who are very pumped up about having basketball this fall. Can they wait two years? I think they can, but they're not going to like it."

You can read more from Art Thiel on this topic at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.