OKLAHOMA CITY (AP/CBS13) – Addressing the media before the first game of the NBA Finals in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, NBA Commissioner David Stern said he fully expects the Kings to remain in Sacramento.
Stern said he believes the team will continue, for now, to play at aging Power Balance Pavilion in Natomas after the Maloof family balked at plans for a new downtown arena.
“That’s their prerogative. As long as it (Power Balance) stands and passes the fire code, I think it’s been a terrific place for the fans of Sacramento,” Stern said, not exactly giving his seal of approval.
“I think if you ask the fans, they’d say it’s better there than no place. I’ll say it again: The fans of Sacramento, the businesses of Sacramento, the city of Sacramento have been great partners of the NBA.”
Asked about a possible effort by the Maloofs to move the team to Anaheim, something they explored after the 2010-11 season before Stern helped convince them to stay in Sacramento, Stern said owners wouldn’t support relocation.
“If there was a vote now, there would be no support for a move,” he said.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson expressed appreciation for Stern’s continued support of the capital city.
“Sacramento may have the fifth pick in the (upcoming NBA) draft, but we remain a top pick with the commissioner,” he said. “We appreciate his commitment to the best fans in the NBA.”
A Maloof spokesman said the family had no response to the commissioner’s comments.
As for Seattle, Stern said he met Monday with Mayor Mike McGinn and was encouraged by the interest from the city, which lost the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.
“We’re just delighted that the mayor is interested, that there’s considering legislation and that somebody wants an NBA team,” Stern said. “We’re not planning to expand and we don’t have a lot of teams available, to say the least.”
A group trying to bring the NBA back to Seattle has expressed interest in the Kings, but the situation there is the same as in Sacramento — the lack of an adequate arena.