Posts Tagged ‘Maloof’

Sacramento Would Lose More Than Team


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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – And so it has come to this: A fan base that came to dislike the Maloof family in a way few cities have ever disliked the owners of any franchise in any sport now need the Maloofs to be the Maloofs to have any hope of keeping the Kings.

That’s why one organization, two cities and millions of fans waiting to (a) celebrate or (b) officially get stabbed in the heart were anxious Wednesday as Yahoo! Sports reported that the Kings were close to being sold to a group that would move the team to Seattle next season. Because the Kings have been close to leaving once before and on another occasion close to staying, only to have both fall through.

This could still fall through, too. The Maloofs – the three brothers most intimately involved, plus other siblings, plus their mother – were so deep in talks with Anaheim in spring 2011 that they received an extension on the deadline to file for relocation, before ultimately, and, smartly, deciding against becoming the third NBA team, and the only invisible one, in the Los Angeles market. Then, last February, often-contentious negotiations with Sacramento officials gave way to a deal brokered at All-Star weekend for a new downtown arena that would keep the love affair between the city and the team alive, only to have the family walk away from the agreement in principle. One of the brothers showed up at the subsequent City Council meeting to support the vote to approve the deal, a couple of the Maloofs walked to center court with Mayor Kevin Johnson during a timeout at a Kings game and raised hands in triumph, and still the family walked away.

So there remains a fair degree of uncertainty, even with the story from the very credible Adrian Wojnarowski that the Maloofs and the Seattle group are close to a deal, that this really is the end of the NBA in Sacramento.

But if it is?

The bruise will leave a spray of black and blue.

This isn’t just about basketball. It’s not even about the immediacy of the economic impact of a team here vs. no team here, with paychecks for game-night workers and business for hotels and restaurants when teams come to town. This is about everything.

The emotions: The Kings are part of the fabric of the community. That was the case when they were playoff regulars and that remains true as they annually drown in the standings. There is a lot more anger now, but that’s a sign of how much people want their fun back. And most of the anger is for the Maloofs, along with the rising tide of frustration for Geoff Petrie as head of basketball operations.

The economy: The departure of the Kings goes so far beyond losing the NBA. Members of the visitor’s bureau have worried for years about how a potential exit could hit Sacramento in ways that might not be measurable for years. Convention business could suffer as groups take conventions to cities that seem more major league. Service industries will suffer in what is already a time of financial hardships.

The arena: Sacramento still needs one. Sleep Train Arena – the former Arco Arena – has already been losing business, sometimes to smaller facilities in town and sometimes to other locales all together. Johnson has been forceful in saying his hometown must have an entertainment complex whether the Kings are part of it or not. Now, he might have to get the money without being able to promise voters an anchor tenant.

The region: The place that was one the shining example of what the NBA wanted its fan bases to be like is on the verge of having no major-league sports. Oakland is about 75 miles away, San Francisco about 90, but Sacramento itself has a microscopic amount of interest in college sports. It has one of the best minor-league baseball stadiums in the country and a deep baseball tradition, but no real passion for what happens on the field with the Class AAA affiliate of the A’s. That’s what the Kings are/were for.

There will be some local hope that Sacramento could one day get another team, the way the league looked favorably at Charlotte for years of support that was washed away by a distaste for ownership, if an arena is built. And, indeed, Johnson has built major credibility with owners and league executives. But the former All-Star point guard with the Suns has received the message from commissioner David Stern loud and clear: Don’t wait by the phone. While there is no way to know what the world will look like in five years, chances are very, very slim.

If Sacramento wants the NBA, it needs the Seattle deal to fall apart. It needs to work with these owners, get an arena, and hope for a sale later. It needs the Maloofs to be the Maloofs.

Sacramento Kings Being Sold To Seattle-Based Group

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The Maloof family is finalizing the sale of the Kings to a group that would relocate the team to Seattle next season, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting.

The deal will sell the Kings for approximately $500 million to a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer. The group is seeking to relocate the franchise to Seattle’s Key Arena for the 2013-14 season.The Seattle group’s plans, with support of the NBA, is to play two seasons in Key Arena before moving into a new Seattle arena, sources said.

No agreement has been signed, but one source with knowledge of the talks described the deal as “first and goal at the 1.”

The purchase to a group led by Hansen, a Seattle native living in the San Francisco area, is not complete. The Maloofs have a history of bailing on major deals at the last minute, as Sacramento officials know from getting their hearts broken in arena negotiations in the Northern California city. But if details from the very reliable Wojnarowski are completed, chances are good the NBA is forever leaving a town that has supported professional basketball like few others.

TNT analyst David Aldridge confirmed that a deal is in the works and that its structure came together just before Christmas, according to league sources.  While the deal has not yet been consummated, the Seattle group is increasingly confident that a deal can be reached.  Word of a possible deal first surfaced in a tweet published by Daina Falk, the daughter of sports agent David Falk. In a tweet that was subsequently deleted, Daina Falk said the sale of the Kings was “a done deal” and that the Kings would be in Seattle next year.

Just yesterday, civic leaders in Virginia Beach, Va., who had hoped of luring the Kings this year, ended that cause.

Seattle has already secured financing for an arena and was only waiting on having a team in place before moving forward with construction. The hope there all along has been for the relocated franchise to be re-named the SuperSonics, wear the familiar green and gold, and play in KeyArena until the new building is completed. That, Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn told NBA.com in October, would likely mean two seasons in the old facility.

There are other details to the reported agreement, Wojnarowski reports:

The Maloofs are expected to keep an extremely small percentage of the team, but will have no real input or say in the franchise, sources said.

Once the sale is completed, the Seattle-based group will have until March to file for relocation. NBA commissioner David Stern has been a big proponent of the Hansen-Ballmer group, and league officials will work diligently to help the franchise move to Seattle if the sale is finalized, sources said. The Seattle-based group is determined to not have the franchise spend a final lame-duck season in Sacramento.

Kings Could Stay Without Arena Deal

Kings ownership and the city of Sacramento are still in a staring contest, the cooling-off period has stretched into its second NBA season, and hopeful Seattle remains in the distance as ever, and yet this is not more of the same on the relocation front.

In a moment befitting the twisted saga of team and community, bouncing from heart break to romance restored and back to scorned lover, the update is there is no update. Which is the point. There is so little movement anywhere that the growing belief among several insiders is that not only will the Kings not file before the end of the season to relocate for 2013-14, as many assumed was an automatic, but that the NBA could plausibly be in Sacramento several more seasons even without a deal on a new arena.

This could realistically be years – plural – of a holding pattern. The Maloof family has no card to play, and, to their credit, they know it. The one thing the embattled Kings owners have done right in this mess is to not force a move for the sake of moving, to find resolution once and for all. Anaheim was the wrong place at the very wrong time, Seattle has no chance of happening under current conditions, and Virginia Beach is a non-starter, little more than polite chatter between a city trying to get in the game and a family needing to consider every option, even the ones being reported without context on the respective home fronts. And so the Maloofs wait.

The strategy of Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is clear: Hope the Maloofs are starved back to the negotiating table with his city. The former All-Star point guard of the Suns has made no attempt to reboot talks since the Kings threw the emergency brake in the spring on the train barreling toward the happy ending of a new downtown arena. It should be apparent by now that Johnson does not feel the need to act when he would be negotiating against himself for the team.

Plus, the importance to Sacramento of continuing to put time on the clock cannot be overstated. The Kings in Sleep Train Arena next season without a resolution for fans already worn to exhaustion will not be comfortable for anyone, especially if the small crowds of early 2012-13 continue, but does contain the key point: The Kings in Sleep Train Arena next season. The longer the NBA is in town, the more time there is to find a solution. Once it’s gone, chances are very good it is gone for good.

Johnson has made a lot of right moves in the tangled process, has won the respect of a lot of people around the league, and will come out of this looking good even if major-league sports leaves Sacramento for good on his watch. But waiting for someone else to create a need for a response is a very risky strategy that assumes the mayor will know his team is being poached with enough time to do something about it. Deals of this magnitude take many months to complete, so, yes, the burglar alarm could go long before the Kings would file, except that the Maloofs could shut KJ out of the conversation. Passing on the chance to be proactive with the region at a major crossroads, City Hall may never get the chance to make a last bid later. (more…)