Seattle's SuperSonics bid steals spotlight at NBA All-Star weekend

HOUSTON, Texas - The fight to bring the SuperSonics back to Seattle took center stage at the All-Star NBA weekend in Houston.

NBA Commissioner David Stern was the target of a full-court press Saturday for answers about the future of the Sacramento Kings at his state-of-the-league conference.

He didn't give up very many answers - nor did he offer any clues about whether the Kings would stay in Sacramento or leave for Seattle - but did give Seattleites reason to mark our calendars.

Stern said he doesn't want to publicly tell Sacramento what they have to do to keep the team. But both cities can't be happy. One will lose.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says emotions are running high in California's capital city.

"You just think about our fans and our attendance and our records and what we've done year in and year out," said Johnson.

Stern expects to receive Sacramento's bid before March - and believes it will be competitive to that of Seattle - including a new facility with a significant subsidy from the city.

"It's going to be tough for anyone to outdo what we've done," added Johnson. "That's a really competitive advantage."

Stern says only that it will be a difficult decision.

"I think the owners are going to have a tough issue to decide, but I don't want to get to it 'cause we don't have the predicate for that tough decision yet," said Stern.

Stern, who has already met with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, has not met with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson - but expects to in the near future.

"There's a great and strong application from a terrific city to bring in a third and possibly a fourth team in a brand-new building, a well-financed ownership group," said Stern. "That's really good, and so if you're a commissioner you like that."

For Seattle fans, April 18 may be a big day. That's when Seattle's Chris Hansen and the relocation committee can give their final pitch directly to the league.

The Seattle group led by Hansen and Steve Ballmer has reached an agreement with the Maloof family to buy 65 percent of the franchise, which is valued at $525 million, and move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The deal will cost the Hansen group a little more than $340 million.

Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor McGinn's office said, "We are working on the review and permitting process for a new arena. And we are working to ensure KeyArena is ready for the 2013-14 NBA season."