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On Thursday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson unwittingly illustrated whatshould be at the heart of the decision the NBA now faces. He did so with the following light-hearted tweets.Kevin Johnson @KJ_MayorJohnson 18 AprSo…guess what city I’m in?Kevin Johnson @KJ_MayorJohnson 18 AprJust sayin’…had already bought tickets (non-refundable) and invited a few friends along as reinforcements.It wasn’t too difficult to figure out what he meant. He and his buddies had purchased non-refundable airline tickets to New York to be ready to present to the Board of Governors meeting if called on.THE THING ABOUT PLANE TICKETS…To do this, Johnson and his entourage made a firm commitment to the airline. They paid a specific price that both parties agreed on in advance. In the unlikely event that the airline gave them tickets thatanother traveler wanted and had already purchased, but who was deemed not as worthy or entitled, they would NEVER have done so for a lesser price.Here’s the kicker. The tickets were non-refundable. In other words, once the Johnson party committed to that purchase, there was NO GOING BACK. They were all in. If they didn’t show up at the airport on time, they wouldn’t be on the flight and would still have to pay for it.The point of this illustration should be very obvious to anyone who has been following the ongoing Sonics/Kings saga.THE HANSEN COMMITMENT…Last January, Chris Hansen and his buddies entered into a binding agreement to buy theSacramento Kings from the Maloof family for the purpose of relocating the team to Seattle. It was a deal with a specific price that both parties negotiated and agreed to. Furthermore, it included a $30 million non-refundable deposit and the willing signatures of all the parties.Granted, it was and is subject to NBA approval. However, once Hansen wrote that $30 million check, there was no going backon it. IF the NBA approves the transaction, there will be no going back on the purchase for the Maloofs or the Hansen group.THE SACRAMENTO ALTERNATIVE…It is an obvious fact that the NBA has invited Johnson to put together a competing ownership group to offer an alternative bid with the goal of keeping the Kings in Sacramento.It should be equally obvious that, if the NBA rejects the Hansen purchase, it would be wrong to force the Maloof brothers to accept a bid that pays less money and comes with less commitment. Here is the meat and coconuts. If the NBA steers the Brothers Three toward KJ’s merry band, it should be because Sacramento offered an equal or superior bid for which there is no going back and no renegotiation allowed.DOES THE NBA FAVOR SACRAMENTO?More specifically, does Commissioner David Stern favor Sacramento to such a degree that he has been actively pulling strings for them behind the scenes? This is a key question to answer because it also answers the question of whether the Maloofs will be forced to deal with the Sacramento group.Chris Daniels Says YesAccording his April 10 article, which you can read here, Stern has been doing quite a bit of hand-holding for the good folks in Northern California.Multiple sources suggested Wednesday that a split has emerged between Stern and team owners over the fate of the Kings. Those sources, spanning the league and governments in Sacramento and Seattle, said Stern has been quietly maneuvering behind the scenes to propel a Sacramento counter bid. They said he has been personally seeking investors to join a new Kings ownership group — even after several NBA team owners last week indicated their willingness to move the franchise to Seattle.Stern Begs To DifferIn this morning’s press conference, Stern expressed strong disagreement with CD5’s story and questioned the accuracy of every story he’d ever written in the following exchange between the two…Daniels: Commissioner Stern, are you trying to influence this decision one way or the other or trying to push the owners of the NBA one way or the other in making this decision?Stern: Actually, despite what you’ve written and said, the answer is no.Daniels: So at the end of the day is this your decision or is it the NBA owners’ decision?Stern: At the end of the day the committee, which is going to meet next week, will have to take a vote and decide what to do. So I don’t understand, not only your question, but where it would come fromDaniels: Well, I’m glad to know that you do read our website and watch our TV station so I appreciate that.Stern: I’m waiting to see something accurate.Proof and PuddingThe fact that Sacramento was able to submit an alternative bid at all.Sacramento fans and media have been ceaselessly telling us of Stern’s hand holding from the beginning.Stern’s comment from the press conference on the status of the Sacramento bid this late in the game. “I think it’s not as complete as it probably is going to be by the close of business today or tomorrow.”The journalistic track record of Chris Daniels. Sorry, but fact.DO THE BIDS MATCH OR NOT?Stern says yes….kind of.We have had assurances of funding support and that has been documented to something in the neighborhood of 80 percent to our satisfaction. When I say satisfaction, the committee’s satisfaction.But it’s in the ballpark, and it’s there. But there are other issues that we just need some more answers on.NOTE: I once saw Rich Amaral in the same ballpark with Ken Griffey Jr. and I once saw Steve Scheffler on the same court as Gary Payton.Daniels says no on April 17…Chris Daniels @ChrisDaniels5JUST IN: Source involved in #NBAKings negotiations says Sacramento counter bid, “non-binding”, involves “no earnest money”, & does not matchThe Maloofs had to set a deadline last week for a matching bid to be received. You can read about it at espn.com here. They wound up extending the deadline a couple days. That deadline must not have been met, since the Maloofs reportedly STILL favor the Seattle deal, according to the following tweet…Ryan Lillis @Ryan_Lillis 18 AprSource close 2 Maloofs tells me family has “binding agreement w/the Seattle group & would prefer that agreement be approved by the league”IS THE ALTERNATIVE BINDING OR NOT?Chris Daniels says noChris Daniels @ChrisDaniels5JUST IN: Source involved in #NBAKings negotiations says Sacramento counter bid, “non-binding”, involves “no earnest money”, & does not matchNot only is it non-binding, but the Sacramento group expects the Maloofs to unbind from the Hansen contract before they make it binding.Chris Daniels @ChrisDaniels5 17 AprMT @TonyBizjak: Sacbee source says Sac bid calls for Maloofs to drop their deal w/Hansen w/o an NBA vote. http://sacb.ee/Z3noxnStern disagrees in the press conference…I think it’s not as complete as it probably is going to be by the close of business today or tomorrow. There is a down payment. It is binding.WHAT WILL HAPPEN?That is anybody’s guess. I’ll tell you what should happen though. The NBA should end this nonsense right now and approve the Hansen bid. They have committed themselves to the “no going back” phase. Sacramento isn’t anywhere close