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The Kings were thought to be on their way out two years ago, when the Maloofs were prepared to move them to Anaheim, Calif. Johnson came to New York to lobby owners to give his city more time, and the plan to relocate fell through.

Sacramento fell into deeper jeopardy of losing its team in January when the Hansen-Ballmer group signed a deal with the Maloofs for $341 million _ a figure reached from a total franchise valuation of $525 million, an NBA record.

The city has fought back again, recently approving an arena financing plan and lining up an ownership group that can compete with the powerful Seattle one. Though no terms of Sacramento’s bid were given, Stern said as he was leaving that the dollars were not an issue after previously saying Seattle’s bid was much higher.

But Sacramento still must overcome the wishes of the Maloofs to deal with Seattle.

“They did express strong support for moving forward with the deal that they’ve made with Chris Hansen,” McGinn said, “and of course in the nature of the presentation it was important to Chris Hansen to point out the advantages to Seattle as a marketplace and as a destination for the NBA.”

A sale would have to be approved by three-fourths of owners. A simple majority is needed to approve a relocation.

Expecting lengthy debate and a difficult decision, Stern set up Wednesday’s meeting so owners would be able to get a jump on the issue before their season-ending meetings. He said the committee will meet again before the board meeting.

Johnson stressed the strength of the Sacramento market and of his potential ownership group, which he called a “dream team.” He said they avoided saying anything negative about Seattle.

“But what we did do is compare Sacramento’s market with Seattle, which I think is a fair comparison,” the former NBA star said. “And when you look at a 23-year period where both of us have had NBA teams, Sacramento’s market outdrew Seattle’s market 20 of 23 seasons, despite Seattle having a better record. Those were the kinds of things that we said in there.”

Stern again ruled out expansion at this time, meaning only one of the cities will have an NBA team next season.

“There’s no question that Seattle is a vibrant and thriving market with plans for a great building, and Sacramento has been a great and supportive market of the NBA with plans for a new building,” Stern said. “And so we need to flesh out for the owners, every owner seems to have a different question, but we’ve got a fair amount of work to do.”


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