Mayor Kevin Johnson is so confident that the Kings are staying put, he's got some advice for the guys trying to buy the team and move it to Seattle: back off.
While saying he understands why they are fighting, the mayor said today that hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer should "take the high road and be gracious." Hansen and Ballmer have said they are still exploring their options after the NBA's relocation committee recommended by a 7-0 vote against their plan to move the Kings to the Emerald City.
"Once the relocation committee spoke as loud and as clear as it did, I would probably take a step back and understand that I'm probably not going to get this team, so how can I put Seattle in the best possible position to get a team moving forward?" the mayor said.
The mayor added, "in some respect, you're poaching, you're taking somebody else's team." While some reports have suggested Hansen could still move forward with buying the Kings and keep them in Sacramento, Johnson said "it's not a scenario that we're planning for."
Johnson said he would travel to Dallas next week, when the full NBA board of Governors is expected to take a final vote on whether to approve the Maloof family's sale of the Kings to Hansen and Ballmer - or to a Sacramento group led by Silicon Valley software exec Vivek Ranadive.
"I'm sure there are 101 things that could go wrong or slow things up, but we're all very hopeful that coming out of May 15 (the NBA meeting) there will be a final decision," the mayor said. Johnson said he was not fearful that the decision could be delayed, but that "there are just things that come up."
"I think we're all on pins and needles waiting for the final decision," the mayor said. "I'm confident and I expect that we will win and we will be able to keep our team in Sacramento. With that said, we are not gloating, we're not over confident."