Let's not waste any time with flowery rhetoric, and keeps things as simple and exact as possible: Having been given a recommendation from their Relocation Committee, all thirty NBA owners plan to vote on the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen (and Steve Ballmer and the Nordstroms) at some point in the next few weeks, possibly around the day of May 13th. As far as I can tell, here are all the potential outcomes that will ultimately stem from that decision:
1.) Hansen is denied ownership of the Kings, and the Maloof family sells the Kings to the local ownership group. As you might have suspected, this is the worst possible outcome for Sonics fans. The Maloofs may be almost broke, and it's possible all the posturing they've done about only accepting a 100% equal bid for the Kings from the Sacramento "whales" is, in fact, just talk. In this scenario the NBA would very much appreciate it if Hansen & Co. would just go away and remain a pawn in efforts to extort other cities out of public funds to build new arenas, but that assumes some of the richest men in the world just completely ignore all the Antitrust laws that the NBA has violated. Ballmer already knows the taste of the back of David Stern's hand, and he's not going to go through all this bullshit, again, without something to show for it. The NBA better pull a card out of their sleeve (and by that I mean an NBA franchise of some sort) to avoid the courtroom.
2.) Hansen is denied ownership of the KIngs, but the Maloof family refuses to sell the team to local ownership group. This would be par for the course, in regards to the Maloof's business relationship with the city of Sacramento. They are under no obligation to take an inferior bid, and maybe they'll find something else to do with their favorite play toy. Never assume that this family is going to do what we think they should do.
3.) Hansen is denied ownership, the Maloofs refuse to sell to local ownership group AND Hansen & Co. sue the NBA. This is the most likely scenario if Chris Hansen is not voted in as owner of the Sacramento Kings in the next week or so. The Maloofs could work in concert with Hansen by refusing to sell the team to the whales as well as threatening lawsuits to get the league work out some kind of deal that's in both of their interests. It's a double-whammy that makes a mess of the whole situation for all parties involved, but such a bad scenario that David Stern and the league will bend over backwards to avoid, which means they might talk themselves out of voting against Hansen altogether. So that leads to.....
4.) Hansen is approved to purchase the Kings, and is also approved to immediately relocate the team to Seattle. It takes 23 votes to approve an ownership sale, so it stands to reason that if 23 owners vote for Chris Hansen, at least 16 of them will also vote in favor of relocation. Perhaps. Of course this is the best outcome for us Sonics fans -- except those among us that are upset about "stealing" another city's team -- and maybe the easiest outcome for the NBA to digest, David Stern's personal grudge against us or not. Hansen is ready to put shovel-to-ground right away to get a new arena built, and he already has all the land purchased. The new Sonics are ready to go, and if the league is as impressed with the Sacramento group as they appear to be right now, then they'll work something out with KJ and the Gang to get them another team (but at this point I no longer give a fuck).
5.) Hansen is approved to purchase the Kings, but is denied relocating them to Seattle. This is a scenario that's been gaining traction the last few days, where Hansen is given the Kings but is used by the league to make sure that Sacramento is actually serious about building this downtown arena they're so keen on, and if things look sour either on the arena front or attendance-wise one year from now, Hansen will petition the league, once again, to move the team to Seattle. But what happens if things in Sactown aren't bad enough to convince the league to relocate the team? Hansen is not just going to hand over the Kings to the Ranadive group; if he is approved as owner of the Kings, Hansen will relocate the team to Seattle, if not right away then at some point in the next 3 years, even without the league's permission. The league may give Hansen the Kings just to avoid lawsuits and more Maloof-ness, but doing almost assures they'll need another franchise if they want pro basketball to remain in Sacramento. Which means the league will have to do what it says they will not do at all....
6.) The NBA makes an expansion deal with either Seattle or Sacramento so that both cities have a team. Personally, I think this is the most likely outcome, in one form or another. H/B/N might have made a superior offer to purchase (and relocate) the franchise, but at this point it's fairly clear that both cities deserve a team, both cities have an ownership group that (probably) can buy the team for what the Maloofs are demanding (or will ultimately accept), and both cities have an arena deal that, at the very least, the NBA feels is sufficient. If David Stern wasn't a bully driven primarily by leverage and power, and had some semblance of a human soul, then expansion would have already been put on the table a long time ago. Instead, the league threw a knife into the ring and ordered Seattle and Sacramento to, metaphorically, fight to the death (apologies to the SonicRising commenter that made this analogy recently, but I forget who you are), If the league wants to secure one of these cities without completely burning the bridge to the other, they have to make some kind of expansion deal, and the longer they wait the worse it'll be for them. I understand why the league is hesitant to expand (one more slice of TV revenue to share, as well as dilution of player talent in the league), but the league has to realize that those issues we're their fault, for all the mistakes they have made over the last decade or so when it comes to dealing with franchise relocation (and even with those issues,each owner will get considerable millions from the expansion fee, as well as the rumored renegotiation of their TV deal in two years). As far as I'm concerned , whatever money the owners lose in expansion will be an Asshole Tax they must pay for putting us in this position to begin with.
When Mayor Greg Nickels settled the city's lawsuit in preventing the liar Clay Bennett from breaking the last two years of KeyArena's lease, part of it was done out of a need to pay off the rest of what was owed on the arena, but it was also done to remain in the NBA's good graces for when we got our ducks in a row. Well, said ducks were in said row last year when Chris Hansen and the city agreed on the new SoDo arena, yet the NBA nary lifted a single fucking finger to get a team back in Seattle. Not only was the promise of expansion (fleeting as it was) completely forgotten, H/B/N have done everything the right way, only to get a boot to the face from the Relocation Committee. That's what Sacramento fans and the national media are forgetting when trying to turn this franchise decision into a battle of which city "deserves" a team more. Not only is it practically impossible to prove, it doesn't matter, because this issue isn't about who "deserves" it more. So far the league has seen fit to show off their power and make it clear they're the ones who decide who owns which team and decide where they play, but all the strutting comes to an end once the ownership votes comes up, because there are only so many ways this drama can play out, and many of those outcomes leave the league in a very uncomfortable place.