New development's in Sacramento's fight to keep Kings (cont.)
A few worthwhile notes on the matter...
Stern's strange appointment
The Stern-appointed relocation committee is chaired by Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett. Yes, that Clay Bennett -- the man behind the SuperSonics franchise's move to Oklahoma City and a most-curious selection for the post.
If and when the Maloofs file for relocation, the committee would have up to 120 days to submit a recommendation to the Board. Stern dismissed an assertion that Bennett would have a conflict of interest in the matter.
"I don't think there's any conflict at all," he said. "It might help maybe if he gets into negotiations with Sacramento ... Maybe Sacramento will think the same thing you do [regarding the conflict], although I don't, that he favors [team] movement. In this case, he favors what's best for the league and the Kings."
Speaking of negotiations with the Sacramento side, we bring you this from the things-that-make-you-go-hmmm department: Bennett attended the Kings' home game on Monday, a fact that I found strange enough to ask a team official to explain.
I was told that Bennett had been tending to business in Los Angeles, which brings us to our next note.
Burkle as Kings' savior?
Stern was dismissive of L.A.-based Ron Burkle as the Sacramento savior, this just one day after his emergence as Johnson's billionaire backup plan caused quite a coast-to-coast stir around the league.
Burkle, who owns the NHL's Pittsburg Penguins and who was listed as the 98th richest American by Forbes in 2010, has expressed his hope of buying the Kings from the Maloofs or buying another NBA team and bringing it to Sacramento. The Maloofs have repeatedly said they will not sell the team, a claim they made yet again in New York on Friday when George Maloof told reporters that Burkle's attempts were "hogwash."
"With respect to Mr. Burkle, the owners heard that," Stern said. "But [the owners were] really were more focused on Mayor Johnson's delivery that talked about enhanced sponsorship revenue, enhanced season ticket sales and enhanced prospects for a building."
Color me skeptical here, as there is reason to believe the commissioner would be best served by downplaying this element of the equation. Ditto for his assessment of the Lakers-Clippers component and whether he would be listening to the strong opposition coming from Dr. Jerry Buss or Donald Sterling.
"If the [relocation] application ... is made, there is a detailed procedure in our Constitution which talks about analyzing whether it can support a third team, and what the prospects are with all of the other teams that are in the market and all of the other teams that will come in or are likely to come in, in terms of an NFL team," Stern said. "But that's the only concern. There will not be any consideration with respect to impact on existing teams, assuming the finding is made that ... the third team can be supported by the market."
No talk of finances
On the other side, the Maloofs and Anaheim officials clearly couldn't close the deal and are struggling to find widespread support for the move [they would need a majority vote should they file].
And considering sources have repeatedly told me that numerous owners and league officials have great concern over the Maloofs' long-term financial viability, this particular passage from Stern jumped right out of the phone.
"There was no discussion of the Kings financial condition,." Stern said when asked about their proposal.
Stern did address the reason for the delay as it pertained to Anaheim.
"It was a discussion of certain areas having to do with the contractual relationship between Mr. [Henry] Samueli's organization (the NHL's Anaheim Ducks) and the Kings, having to do with the building, having to do television revenue, and really, having to do with upgrades that have to be done, substantial upgrades to the Honda Center to both comply with NBA operation standards and to enhance the fan and revenue generating experience at the Honda Center," he said.
Rest of committee
Conclusions are tough to draw here, but it's worth noting the rest of the relocation committee cast: Miami's Micky Arison, San Antonio's Peter Holt, Utah's Greg Miller, Indiana's Herb Simon, Philadelphia's Ed Snider, and Minnesota's Glen Taylor.
Johnson remains hopeful
The short version of the latest Sacramento story, as brought to you by Johnson himself: "We live to fight another day," he said. "And I think that's very important."