The National Basketball Association Expansion Committee will recommend today that Dallas be awarded the league's 23rd franchise. Expansion requires approval of at least 17 of the 22 teams.
"It will be a close vote and there's no way of knowing how it'll come out," Irv Levin of San Diego, the chairman of the League board of directors, said. "It's just so close right now," said Cleveland Cavalier owner Nick Mileti. "We met for three or four hours last night and it's on the razor's edge."
The Dallas franchise would be awarded to a group of investors headed by Norm Sonju, former president of the Buffalo Braves. They reportedly will pay approximately $12 million to become a part of the NBA.
"No one is opposed to expansion but some are worried about the consequences that could develop because of it," one league source said.
Mileti, who supports expansions, said that "a major market like Dallas deserves to have all the major league sports. That's the main reason for expanding there.
"Another reason is that they have all the elements there. They have top-notch people, a top-notch building that's almost finished and it has natural rivals in Houston and San Antonio."
The 1980 NBA All-Star Game will be played Sunday at sold-out Capital Centre at 1 o'clock and the vote on expansion is just part of the weekend's activities.
Both the East and West teams will practice at Capital Centre beginning at 10 a.m. today and the workouts will be open to the public.
A clinic to benefit the Special Olympics will take place after the workouts.
Elvin Hayes is the only Bullet on the East team. His teammate, Wes Unseld, was a contender to be named as a replacement for Boston's Dave Cowens, who pulled out of the game because of a foot injury. But the East coaches voted New York rookie Bill Cartwright to the team instead.
Cartwright joins two other rookies, Larry Bird of Boston and Earvin (Magic) Johnson of Los Angeles, in the game marking the first time since the first year of the All-Star Game in 1951 that three rookies have participated.
Johnson is the only rookie starter.
In addition to the game and the owners' meetings, a number of teams are looking to make a trade here this weekend.
The weekend's activities got underway yesterday when Commissioner Larry O'Brien was the guest speaker at a National Press Club luncheon.
In response to a question, O'Brien said that the 12-player roster limit is being discussed, but that it is part of the collective-bargaining agreement.
NBA rosters are at 11 now.
O'Brien also said the NBA season will end at least three weeks earlier than it did last season. If the championship final series goes seven games, the season will end May 18.
In the meetings, the owners also are expected to formalize a working agreement with the minor league Continental Basketball Association and to hear reports on the success of the three-point field goal rule and a proposed collapsible rim.