By Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak Rlillis@sacbee.com
The Sacramento Kings now have until May 2 to ask for the NBA's permission to move the team to Anaheim.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said today that the league's owners wanted more information on efforts in Sacramento to prove the city is a financially viable market for the Kings, as well as the incomplete deal in Anaheim to lure the team to Southern California.
Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett "will lead some fact-finding efforts to determine whether representations made by the mayor of Sacramento about the availability of certain inducements to cause the team to stay can be reduced to certainty," Stern said.
Mayor Kevin Johnson told the league on Thursday that the business community here had committed to $7 million in sponsorships and ticket purchases for the Kings. Stern said the league's relocation committee would meet with the local business community and the mayor.
The commissioner said the discussion to keep the team here must also concentrate on a new arena here, a topic that is "usually an eye-roller" given the failed attempts of the past.
"The issue first and foremost in Sacramento is whether there's the will or the ability to build a new arena for the team and other events," Stern said.
Stern said there were also questions from the owners regarding the Anaheim deal, including potential television contracts and upgrades needed to that city's Honda Center to make it a profitable NBA facility. Stern said terms of the complicated Anaheim deal were still changing in the past few days. "The terms of the relocation to Anaheim were not fully understood by the committee," said Stern, who added the Southern California market could support another team.
Asked if the new May 2 deadline would give the Kings enough time to move before the start of next season, Stern said the Kings are "not forced to stay in Sacramento at all."
Stern said the offer by billionaire Ron Burkle to buy the Kings or move another team to Sacramento "are not high agenda items" for the NBA right now.
"I know Mr. Burkle. He's an owner in the NHL...We know his good reputation in our industry," he added.
As the NBA owners meeting drew to a close, Gavin Maloof reiterated the family's intention to keep the Kings. "We're not selling, absolutely, I can tell you that," he said.
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