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Dallas - The dream of the NBA returning to Seattle in the near future is dead for now.
The NBA announced today that they denied relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. The Maloof's, at this point, still maintain ownership of the team, but both the NBA and the Sacramento group are confident that a deal can be achieved.
The press conference certainly took on a negative tone, when NBA Commissioner David Stern said this in his opening remarks:
"This is going to be short for me. I have a game to get to in Oklahoma City."
That line will clearly not sit well with Seattle fans, and it shouldn't.
On his website, Chris Hansen released the following statement:
While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today’s relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan, we do thank the league and the owners for their time and consideration and look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings.
But most of all I would like to thank everyone in Seattle who has been a part of our effort and supported our cause. Words simply can’t express how much your support has meant to me personally and to our City. I truly believe we did everything possible to put our best foot forward in this process and you all should be proud and hold your heads high today.
Our day will come...and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle.
I love you Seattle!
Even though the agreement with Sacramento fell through the league did not shut the door on expansion in Seattle, in fact, the door was very much left open.
"I think there was a generalized talk that it would be good in the future just to consider that issue, but awaiting the next television renegotiation which is virtually upon us. Especially in terms of the year or so, or what have you, that it was best to await that event, " said NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Stern was asked if the league had made any promises to Seattle "Just that our promise of fair dealing and ultimate consideration down the road."
But, for fans looking for anything concrete, Stern would not commit to that.
"We look forward to continuing the dialogue of some type with the citizens and potential owners in Seattle, but we don't have anything concrete to support with respect to an NBA franchise in Seattle at this time," said Stern.
Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who will take over February 1st of 2014 added:
"We've never wavered in our desire to return to the Seattle market at some point, as Chris Hansen made clear in his presentation to the Board of Governors today. The league continues to enjoy strong support in the Seattle market. We have strong support for our telecast, our national telecast in Seattle, and expansion was discussed at least as a possibility down the road. We want to wait and see what happens in our next national television negotiation, but we're very appreciative of the fans in Seattle, and we've regretted having to leave the market the last time and we fully expect we'll return there one day."
The league acknowledged that this wasn't necessarily a victory for the NBA, but rather it was a victory for Sacramento.
"That is to say it's nice to see two great cities being so interested on an NBA franchise, but the big winner here was Sacramento," Stern said.
The NBA has said that in the next "24 to 48 hours" they hope to have a deal w/ Vivek Ranadive and the Maloof's.
The league confirmed that they voted on the Hansen groups offer of $625, however, the Sacramento group will pay the valuation of $525 to the Maloof's, if they accept.
If you have followed this story at all, I think we all come away thinking that Sacramento was given every advantage along the way. The concern in Seattle is whether or not support will now disappear after this latest effort falling short.
"I believe that at such time as there is a franchise that is available under NBA procedures and rules or through expansion and that conversation takes place, that the right forces will be present in Seattle to achieve that result," said Stern.
As they did in 2008 the message from the NBA to Seattle is to wait your turn and you will be reawarded at some point in the future. However, that type of promise will most certainly fall on deaf ears in Seattle.
Stern avoided my question when I asked him that five years ago Seattle dropped a lawsuit because the NBA asked them to do so and now you are asking Seattle to essentially do the same thing.
"This was not an anti‑Seattle vote, this was a pro‑Sacramento vote, And that is just the way the committee and ultimately the board decided it would be done, " Stern said.
I followed that up with, was Seattle used as a pawn?
"I must say that the mayor (Kevin Johnson) came in and said we understand that there is this offer in Seattle. What do we have to do to keep the team here and the committee responded. You've got to match the offer, have a building, and get a good ownership group that can make it happen, and it happened. Then the committee decided ‑‑ didn't have any preconceived notions, but looking at both evenly they said that the edge went to the incumbent, so that's the way it came out."
As I mentioned before, eight owners voted for the relocation and one of those was Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. Through his representative, Seahawks and Sounders President Peter McLoughlin, he made it known that Allen, because of Paul's ownership of the Seahawks and Sounders and the fact that he lives in Seattle, it was important for him to be supportive of city.
"It was important for him to be supportive of Seattle and he always has been. He's always wanted the NBA to return to Seattle and has always said it was a sad day when the NBA left," McLoughlin said.
So, what's the next step now? I don't think anyone truly knows the answer to that question. But, with his statement today, Hansen made it clear that he still wants to pursue the NBA, however, will the reaction be the same for the fans and the political structure?