No matter what the NBA decides, to burn Sacramento or to burn Seattle for a second time, somebody will have to figure out their path forward.
For Seattle, this situation isn't entirely new. The Seattle Pilots baseball team left town for a better short term situation for the team owner. Seattle later got the Mariners. The Sonics left for a better near term situation for the team owner. Seattle has a purchase agreement for the Sacramento Kings (and likely will be taking them).
The Kings have been here before as well. Sacramento was the better option for the team owner when they moved the Kings from Kansas City/Omaha to Sacramento in 1985. Would Sacramento turn around and be able go after another team? Would they just hope for expansion? When would they be prepared to do more than just hold on?
To some degree, you either have to believe the Sacramento narrative that the current effort was pulled together within three months, or the other choice is they have been working on solutions for the better part of a decade. It is not particularly meaningful to the current state or their position going forward. The whole charade has less to do with the current efforts that they are planning to do and more to do with what they are not yet prepared to do.
Last summer, while Sacramento was thinking about going after a baseball team, Seattle was finalizing an Inter-Local Agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding, preliminary arena design planning, Chris Hansen was buying property, all evidence that Chris Hansen was preparing to buy the first available team.
What is each side prepared to do today?
Seattle: buy the team right now (you're soaking in it).
Sacramento: buy the team pretty soon, couple months of lawyering would be required.
Seattle: release an independent Economic Impact Analysis on building a new arena in Seattle later this year.
Sacramento: hope nobody looks at the old surveys.
Seattle: start working on the new arena in the late December / early January, and be ready to open for the 2015-16 season.
Sacramento: acquire land pretty soon or possibly be forced to rent from JMA, and build an arena sometime soon after that.
Seattle is ready to do this now. Seattle has a superior economic outlook than Sacramento for the foreseeable future as well. I'm not sure when Sacramento will be able to accurately say they are as ready as Seattle is today. And that raises the question as to when they are ready, will they have a better economic outlook than some other city they will be competing with for an NBA team. Does the economic outlook in Sacramento look better than San Jose? Arena? Silicon money? Vancouver? Kansas City? Another team in Chicago?
What if the NBA says "No" to Sacramento?
Do they put this effort on a slow track while the emotional wounds heal? Can the citizens make that pivot quickly enough to not have the efforts they have developing just fall apart? It's not an easy turn to make. Seattle has made that turn and understands what we are getting into.
Sacramento has a lot of things on paper, but just not all that much money actually committed to having a NBA team and arena. Not in comparison to Seattle and Chris Hansen. Hansen owns the property. Owns it. The ink is dry.
That all said, I really don't know for sure that if the team left, that Sacramento then is the first in line for another team unless they have a more developed arena and property plan than they currently have. Maybe they don't become first in line. It's possible.
What if the NBA say "No" to Seattle?
Then Chris Hansen goes after the next available team, and all of the other things move to the completion, short of sticking shovels in the ground at the end of the year, and wait on sprucing up KeyArena (yes, it's one word).
I have a hard time imagining the NBA saying no to Seattle.
I have an even harder time imagining Sacramento being ready to do what Seattle is doing right now should the NBA said no to them.