by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

The League’s relocation committee, made up of 12 NBA owners, has voted unanimously that owners deny the application for the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Seattle.

The stunning news was announced via conference call Monday afternoon, and on May 15, the Board of Governors will vote on the matter which has dragged on for three years.

Per the Sac Bee:

A powerful committee of NBA team owners on Monday rejected the Kings’ proposed relocation to the Pacific Northwest. The unanimous 7-0 vote by the league’s relocation committee could kill the $357 million deal the Maloof family struck to sell the team to investors from Seattle. It sets up a final decision in mid-May by the league’s board of governors, consisting of all 30 team owners. While clearly elated, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was careful not to declare victory at a press conference attended by cheering fans at Firestone Public House in midtown. “It is not over yet,” said the former NBA star, who lobbied league executives relentlessly to keep the Kings in town. “I feel like we have won a round in the playoffs. … There is still work to be done. We do not want to dance in the end zone.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern told an NBA TV reporter at a playoff game in Atlanta late Monday that he was surprised the vote was unanimous, but added, “They decided as strong as the Seattle bid was, and it was very strong, there’s some benefit that should be given to a city that has supported us for so long and has stepped up to contribute to build a new building as well.” He said the full board’s vote would come May 15. Amid the celebration in Sacramento Monday, it remained unclear whether the Maloofs, thwarted by their fellow owners, would accept the backup offer from a group of investors angling to keep the Kings in Sacramento. The family had no comment on the committee vote.

The Maloof family has had an agreement in place since January to sell a 65% controlling stake in the Kings’ franchise to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer.

Hansen — while quoting Muhammad Ali — says that despite the relocation committee’s recommendation, this fight is not over:

“While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we just wanted to let you all know that we remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through.”

The full vote next month will ultimately determine their fate, but from the look of things at the moment, Sacramento appears to have beaten the odds and may keep their beloved Kings after all.