SEATTLE –- It's been more than a week. Still no deal.
Chris Hansen, the man leading the charge to bring professional basketball back to Seattle, has not finalized a deal to buy the Sacramento Kings.
It appears no announcement is imminent, despite multiple reports that Hansen was close to acquiring the team, which would play in a new, $490 million arena complex to be built in Seattle's stadium district. The lack of new information about where negotiations stand has frustrated fans in Sacramento and Seattle alike.
But the situation may be clearer than it appears. Indications are that both sides are in an “exclusive negotiating agreement,” which is a common practice in large transactions.
“It’s pretty common to do that, because you don’t want things to drag out, and go on and on,” said Joe Phillips, the Dean of Seattle University’s Albers Business School. “You don’t want to be (negotiating) in public, in the news media, no offense intended.”
Phillips said such an agreement “means a deal is closer to being done, more viable. It’s more likely to get done. It’s not necessarily a final step, and doesn’t mean a deal will 100 percent get done.”
Both sides are likely under a non-disclosure agreement, which prevent the dealmakers from shedding light on the status of the negotiations.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, appearing in London prior to a league game on Thursday, also claimed the deal was not done.
“The one thing we do know is that no purchase and sale agreement has been submitted to us, and we assume if one were going to be executed, the next thing they would do is submit it to us,” Stern said, as he also suggested Sacramento would get a shot to match any deal.
“There's been lots of speculation. The mayor of Sacramento has asked me, 'Well, if it comes to pass because we've been reading it in the newspapers' -- and he knows that anything he reads in the newspapers is likely to be accurate -- 'could I come in and address the Board of Governors or the relocation committee?' And I said, 'Always. The communities have supported us and many that haven't, but Sacramento has been particularly supportive, are always welcome to present.'”
Stern also admitted he’s had several conversations with Hansen and Seattle leaders.
“The mayor of Seattle came in some time ago and told us that he was in favor of having a team, and we always entertain mayors, even for cities that don't have teams. (Hansen) ... has been in to have talks with us. So we've been ... more or less in a series of communications, but right now we don't know anything in terms of actionable plans.”
The NBA’s relocation filing deadline is March 1, and any deal would likely need to wrapped up well before then.