A 'win-win-win' idea for Kings sale, NBA in Seattle

May 3, 2013

The NBA Board of Governors is expected to vote May 15 on the recommendation by its relocation committee to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle. But investor Chris Hansen is refusing to give up.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel has his own idea for how to solve this whole mess.   

Shred of hope with NBA vote

Art says he sees three options. The first is to hope Chris Hansen can convince enough NBA owners to overturn the recommendation of the relocation committee.

"Getting a simple majority isn't that difficult and I'm told that there were people sympathetic to the Seattle offer so there would be some support for that," he says. "But (NBA Commissioner) David Stern doesn't want it and David Stern still rules the roost in the NBA."

Litigation 'messy' option

Art says there is the legal route, including possible federal anti-trust litigation. But he's not in favor of it.

"It's lose-lose-lose as far as I'm concerned. It would have to be Chris Hansen suing the Sacramento investors but it would just wind up being a mess. Let's not push the lawyer button on this," he says. 

Art's big idea

Art proposes having Chris Hansen conclude his transaction with the Maloof family, buy the Kings and keep them for a year and then petition the NBA for an expansion team.

"Hansen can run the team in a fair and descent way because he's going to be under a lot of scrutiny and he doesn't want to mess the team up if he should get it. But the only way Hansen gets Sacramento in Seattle is if Sacramento fails in its ability to build the arena. And there is some skepticism in the NBA about that. They are actually afraid that this is going to get messed up. Hansen provides a safety net for that one year.

"And if Sacramento succeeds, then Hansen will petition the NBA - which will have had a year to consider expansion. There's no lose for Sacramento in this unless they screw it up themselves. And there's a win for the NBA in Seattle because it keeps the option on the table of expansion," he says. 

Crazy enough to work?

Art concedes that some people will think this is an "out there" idea.

"I also would submit that it was an 'out there' idea for the NBA to buy the New Orleans franchise in 2010 for $310 million. That franchise was struggling mightily in the post-Katrina economy of New Orleans and the NBA was afraid it was going to be sold out of town and moved. They demonstrated their desire to keep teams in smaller markets by buying the team, knowing (a) collective bargaining agreement was coming up in 2011. And (the agreement) came out so favorably for the owners that they all think they can break even in a few years in every market. So it was smart of the NBA because they found a buyer for $338 million, made a small profit, held a team for two years, kept them in New Orleans. It worked there.

"I'm thinking this (plan) is a lot more secure and a lot less risky than what they did in New Orleans. So, creativity, cooperation - do you think we might be able to get that out of the NBA and Seattle and Sacramento?" he says. 

You can read more about Art's idea at Sportspress Northwest. You can also find his work at Crosscut.com.