It was made very clear to just about anyone who is being kept "in the know" that Sacramento was intending to roll out their Burkel/Mastrov ownership group on Monday or Tuesday of this week. After meeting with David Stern late last week apparently that decision has been delayed and an announcement still has not been made.
Now I really understand that the public announcement does not indicate what is going on in the backroom and I also understand that it is a very complicated partnership arrangement. Those guys are going to be committing to working together on a billion dollar deal. They have to figure out who has responsibility if they somehow acquire the team and then have difficulty getting the building arrangement they wanted handled. It could take a while.
They have a limited window and tomorrow is a big date. At midnight tomorrow (OK, techically its 12:01 the next day) Hansen's earnest money will go hard and non-refundable.
While people may want to talk about the impact that makes on the legal ramifications of the payment(which are substantial) they just completely underestimate bigger problem that presents for Sacramento ownership efforts.
The NBA may brush off the feelings and emotions of one of the millions of fans who they can buy back cheaply for a free T-shirt or win over with an amazing playoff run. They do however treasure relations they have with billionaires who are looking to increase franchise values. Those new owners, who take big risks and big time away from their day jobs to pursue these franchises have an expectation of treatment. They expect to be negotiating in good faith with the league and its owners.
There is a gray area where people are just "doing their due dilligence" and expenses are what they are. If 2 years ago Chris Hansen had been pursuing the Kings and had a couple hundred thousand dollars in travel expenses, review and legal fees then I think they could have told him rightfully that they were moving another direction and he needed to go back to the drawing board.
There is no way that they can look at Hansen and Steve Ballmer and say "I know that you have spent $50 million on land, fought a huge battle for another $10M expense to get this building approved and now spent $30M on a deposit for the team but we think its fair to allow a last minute matching opportunity.
David Stern can look at Ron Burkel and tell him with a straight face "We would never do that to you." and he will mean it. If they pulled the rug out from under Hansen after all that it would discourage ANY man of sufficient net worth from ever going down this path again.
If the NBA is giving Sacramento ANY shot they need to have their ownership group identified prior to the Feb. 1 earnest money deadline. If they are giving it real consideration then they will let Hansen know that he needs to pull his earnest money back. If they let this go through then we will all know that this is pretty much over.