NBA execs say Kings to stay put for now
It looks like the Sacramento Kings won't become the Anaheim Royals after all -- at least not next season.
Despite speculation that the Kings had all but packed their bags for Southern California, the NBA now believes the team will remain in Sacramento next season, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday, citing league executives.
However, the Kings' long-term future in Sacramento remains uncertain beyond 2011-12, the Times reported, citing league executives.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the Sacramento Bee he had no comment on the Los Angeles Times' report.
Meanwhile, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof says his family is still deciding whether to move the franchise to Anaheim or stay in California's capital city.
Maloof told The Associated Press on Friday that no decision has been made and he's "as anxious as anybody" to find out if Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promise for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena.
Johnson was wrapping up two days of meetings with NBA relocation committee chairman and Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett and other league officials in Sacramento.
"We await the results of the fact-finding visit that the NBA made to Sacramento the past two days," the Kings said Friday night in a statement. "We have not made a decision with regards to relocation filing, and will not make that decision until we have more information from the NBA."
Anaheim's mayor, Tom Tait, released a statement: "The NBA looks favorably on our city, our arena, and our fans. We are not going to comment on unconfirmed reports."
At the NBA Board of Governors meetings last week in New York, the NBA granted the Kings an extension until May 2 to file paperwork requesting a relocation to Anaheim.
Johnson attended the April 14-15 meetings in New York, as well, to make a desperate pitch to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and he persuaded the league to dispatch a fact-finding team to Sacramento.
Johnson believes he made another splash when they arrived. He presented $9.2 million -- up from the $7 million he initially cited last week -- in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses and other backers to prevent the team from moving to Anaheim.
Johnson, during a news conference Friday night in Sacramento, said, "We actually have a shot to win this game."
But he also cautioned: "I don't think we're at a point where we can declare victory at all. I think our job is to keep fighting."
The Kings likely won't make a long-term commitment to staying in Sacramento without a new arena.
After years of failed efforts to replace outdated Power Balance Pavilion, formerly called Arco Arena, Sacramento officials are using the extra time before the Maloof's relocation application deadline to show the NBA that they can finally agree on a plan to finance a new facility.
A new arena feasibility plan -- the major sticking point in past efforts -- won't be completed until a few weeks after the relocation deadline. A majority approval by owners would be needed to approve the move, and political leaders in Sacramento believe there's still time to convince the NBA the Kings shouldn't leave.
"I don't think they have made up their minds," city councilman Rob Fong said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.