Despite a strong push by Sacramento officials to keep the Kings, the team owners remained uncertain Wednesday whether to stay in Sacramento next season or request NBA approval for a move to Anaheim, a source close to the situation told The Bee.
The source said the Maloof family, which owns the team, held talks Wednesday with several top NBA officials, including members of the league's relocation committee.
The Kings owners expressed appreciation for local businesses that have pledged $10 million in sponsorship support for next year, but also shared concerns about whether their finances can withstand several years of waiting for a new arena to be built, and whether Sacramento will be able to come up with an arena plan that is financially feasible, given past failures. NBA officials, in turn, told the Maloofs to stay in Sacramento.
The source said it appears unlikely at this point that team owners will come to a conclusion before Monday, the day set by NBA officials as the deadline for the team to request permission to relocate to Anaheim for next season.
Also Wednesday, NBA officials spoke with Honda Center representatives in Anaheim in what appears to be the league's last bit of fact- finding on the Kings relocation question.
League and Anaheim officials declined to comment on those talks.
Speaking on national radio, NBA Commissioner David Stern said he also would be getting an update Wednesday from the league's relocation committee on its findings from Sacramento and Anaheim.
Committee chair Clay Bennett, owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was in Sacramento last week assessing Mayor Kevin Johnson's efforts to put together more corporate financing for the team and regional support for a new arena.
NBA executives in recent days have indicated they are interested in seeing the team stay in Sacramento at least one more year, which would give the city a last chance to finance an arena to replace aging Power Balance Pavilion.
Speaking briefly on radio, Stern repeated his belief that Southern California could support a third NBA franchise, alongside the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.
"It's a tough one," he said. "I think at the end of the day, you could probably find support for an NBA team."
In Sacramento, the mayor's office reported receiving a handful of calls Wednesday from businesses asking about becoming sponsors of the Kings, should the team stay.
An NBA marketing squad, in town since Monday, continued its work solidifying the $10 million in sponsorship pledges the mayor and his solicitation team say they gathered over the last two weeks. Those companies have been asked to write deposit checks worth 20 percent of the amount they have pledged.
Ron Brown of West Sacramento's Brown Construction Co. said he signed on as a sponsor expecting Sacramento to be able to get an arena built.
"I haven't signed on to rent a team for a year," he said. "What I've signed on for is to have a professional sports team here for many years to come."