With two proud cities fighting for control of the Sacramento Kings, the National Basketball Association will soon be called upon to pick a winner.

But how?

One city, Seattle, has signed a tentative, $340 million deal with the Maloof family to buy and move the team, and appears to have the inside track. Sacramento, in turn, is expected to counter any day now with a bid of its own, and has been gaining momentum in recent days.

It's unprecedented, said Bay Area sports consultant Andy Dolich, a former NBA team executive. "This is a unique circumstance. We have a thoroughbred horse race."

A decision is expected in mid-April, when the 30 NBA owners convene for a postseason board of governors meeting in New York.

The NBA brain trust is offering few clues on which way it's leaning, or how it will decide, leaving NBA pundits guessing, radio talk shows buzzing and two cities pitching their merits.

"From a solid deal standpoint, Seattle has the stronger position right now," said Dolich, who was an executive with the NBA's Grizzlies when they moved from Vancouver to Memphis. "They have an arena plan. They have a deal in place with the Maloofs. They have a pre-existing (NBA) market which has shown strength."