The recommendation has been made, the vote is set and the Sacramento Kings seem all but assured of staying in California's capital city.
Or are they?
In yet another twist to this unprecedented fight between two West Coast cities, investor Chris Hansen has vowed to "move forward with the transaction" he has with the Maloof family to buy the Kings and move the team to Seattle despite a unanimous recommendation from the NBA's relocation committee for owners to reject the bid.
Hansen said he plans to lobby the NBA Board of Governors, which consists of all 30 owners, again anyway the week of May 13. The board is expected to vote on the issue and follow the committee's recommendation — which NBA Commissioner David Stern also is supporting — during that meeting.
"When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible," Hansen wrote to Seattle fans on his website late Monday night, hours after the seven-person committee handed down its recommendation. "While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind."
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson remembers hearing about impossible, too.
In 2011, the Maloofs made plans to move the Kings to Anaheim, Calif. At one point, Johnson seemed so certain the team was gone he called the process a "slow death" and compared the city's efforts to keep the Kings to a "Hail Mary."
Instead, Johnson surprisingly convinced the NBA to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena. He delivered on his promise of a new arena plan — given Stern's seal of approval — before the end of last season. But in a stunning move, the Maloofs backed out of the tentative deal for a downtown arena, saying it didn't make financial sense.
The city of Sacramento and the owners broke off talks, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate. Cities such as Virginia Beach, Las Vegas and Kansas City surfaced as potential new homes.
In January, the Maloofs caught Sacramento — and to a certain extent, the NBA — by surprise when they announced the deal with Hansen's group, which includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and members of the Nordstrom department store family.
Led by Johnson, Sacramento fought back to make the sale and relocation of the Kings tough for the league to recommend. He pushed a non-binding financing plan for a $447 million downtown arena through the Sacramento City Council — complete with a $258 million public subsidy — and lined up an ownership group to try to compete with the powerful Seattle contingent.
At a packed pep rally at a downtown restaurant late Monday afternoon, Kings fans serenaded Johnson with chants of "Sac-ra-mento!" He called the committee's recommendation a "big day for the city of Sacramento" but cautioned fans not to declare victory just yet.
"We do not want to dance in the end zone. We do not want to celebrate prematurely," Johnson said.