And just like that, it’s all over.
What started back in January with Chris Hansen reaching a deal to purchase the Kings from the Maloofs has ended with the NBA Board of Governors rejecting relocation of those Kings to Seattle, effectively voiding the agreement to buy the majority of the team. On the table is still the 20% backup deal, but at this point does anyone give two shits about that?
We’re stuck. We’re back where we were before that calendar flipped to 2013. We still have an MOU that’s good for five years (so, through 2017, I guess), we still have the land and the arena deal in place, and we still have an ownership group who ostensibly will be willing to stick around at least through the end of the MOU. The window is still open, but it’s time to stop thinking about relocation of an existing team.
It’s time, now, to turn our focus to expansion.
The NBA has said that it won’t start working on expansion until it has had a chance to renew its national television deal. The current deal runs through the 2015/2016 season, which is three years away. Reports indicate that the league will start preliminary talks this summer after the Finals, with an eye toward getting a new deal in place sometime in 2014. So, in theory, by this time next year we should know whether or not the NBA is going to keep its promise to address expansion, and of course which cities will be in the running.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as, “Here you go Seattle. You’ve been a good sport throughout all this; take this brand new team and make it your own!” There is a bidding process. Other cities have to be given a chance to present their cases. In places like Kansas City and Anaheim, we’re talking about cities who already HAVE arenas built. Kansas City has been waiting around FOREVER to get a team back (after the Kings moved away, irony of ironies). I know Virginia Beach was on the table, maybe St. Louis, maybe Albuquerque. I’m sure a whole slew of others. Seattle can’t just sit back and relax. There is still work to be done.
Could the NBA screw us over once again? Of COURSE they could! We were a thorn in their side back in 2007 and 2008, we’ve been a thorn in their side this year, and these people have long memories. On top of that, our arena deal doesn’t exploit the taxpayer like it should.
Owners assuming the majority of the cost and the risk in building a new arena? How gauche!
Seattle had traditional financing deals for the Seahawks and Mariners that really put the screws to its citizens; they must not care about basketball!
Seattle doesn’t have the support of its fans or politicians to support pro basketball; why don’t we give one of these other cities a chance!
After all, 1-sport towns are the NBA’s lifeblood …
And so on and so forth. Just because you hear more and more talk about expansion, don’t believe for one second that it’s a done deal. There are still countless ways the league can screw us over.
Yesterday sucked. No matter how convinced you are that something is going to happen one way, you can never entirely rule out the opposite. I went into yesterday rock solid in my belief that the NBA was going to keep the Kings in Sacramento. Still didn’t stop me from having just a tiny shred of belief that the unthinkable could still happen. That in a few short months the NBA could be back in Seattle where it belongs.
Of course, we’re not that lucky, so we have to wait. Some more. It feels like we’ve been waiting for generations; 2008 feels like a century ago. For now, everything goes dark on the Sonics returning to Seattle. Feel free to hope if you want, but I’m going back into my shell of I’ll Believe It When I See It.
We deserve better than this. But, you don’t always get what you deserve.