The Sacramento Kings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The saga of the Kings’ future began back in January with an agreement between the Maloof family and Seattle-based investors Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that would have sold the team to them. They would then have brought the Seattle SuperSonics back to the NBA after they were relocated to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season.
Sacramento’s efforts have been led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive as well as Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who have worked tirelessly to local and regional businesses and leaders to establish the framework for a new arena for the Kings.
The Ranadive group has a competing deal on the table based on the original franchise valuation of $525 million that Hansen and the Maloofs reached in January.
The Ranadive group has agreed to match the 65 percent price of $341 million for the Kings in that deal, and has put at least 50 percent of that $341 million into escrow. NBA Commissioner David Stern said last month that while the Sacramento bid to keep the Kings at the time was slightly lower than the Seattle bid, the league considered the Sacramento bid binding.
Although there has been substantial buzz in Seattle that there are potential antitrust issues that could be the basis for a lawsuit against the NBA if and when Hansen’s bid is rejected, Hansen’s group apparently remains uninterested in legal remedies upon rejection, according to the source.
Hansen believes that this may be the last time in the foreseeable future that political and business interests in Seattle will be aligned to give support for an NBA bid. The city of Seattle has committed up to $200 million toward construction of a $490 million arena in the city’s SoDo area, next to Safeco Field, where baseball’s Mariners play. Hansen, who has already purchased the land on which he wants to build the arena, would pay the rest.
Sacramento has committed $250 million toward construction of a $447 million arena that would be the centerpiece of a development plan at the current Downtown Plaza mall site.
Ranadive’s group, which includes 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and the Jacobs Family, billionaire owners and managers of the Qualcomm company, has pledged to the NBA that it will not be a revenue sharing recipient if the Kings remain in Sacramento, citing the expected increased revenues the team will be able to get from a new building.
The Sacramento Bee reported this week that the NBA has encouraged the Ranadive group to put the remaining half of the $341 million into escrow as well to alleviate concerns of the Maloofs that the group has the financial wherewithal to complete the transaction.
Information from TNT analyst David Aldridge was used in this report.
It’s not as simple as that, of course, what with the lawyers involved and the league waist-deep in a back and forth between two cities that are both desperate to keep a team, in Sacramento’s case, and regain a team, in Seattle’s case.
The Seattle group has covered all of its bases in trying to complete this deal. They’ve reached an agreement on that secondary deal, which they want enacted in the case that the Board of Governors reject the relocation proposal today.
That deal would include the Maloofs selling 20 percent of the Kings to the Hansen-led group for $120 million, and that’s based on a franchise valuation of $600 million. The Kings would stay in Sacramento for the 2013-14 season with the Maloofs as the owners. The Hansen group is also willing (and able) to pay an unprecedented $115 million relocation fee, a payout of approximately $4 million for every owner, if the owners allow them to purchase the Kings and move them to Seattle next season, raising the stakes yet again in this hundred million dollar exhibit in the business of basketball.
Sacramento Mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson is using the Kings’ history in Sacramento and the NBA’s loyalty to a fan base and city that has supported the Kings fervently, through good times and bad, as his trump card in this saga. The Sacramento group does not seem at all interested in some bidding war for the franchise that’s made it’s home there for last three decades.
Sort through the minutiae as best you can, but the bottom line is one set of fans will wake up tomorrow relieved that they finally have some answers about their team while another group of fans will wake up to the nightmare that their team is either leaving or not coming to town.
OKLAHOMA CITY –Kevin Martin was in a deep funk and the pressure, bearing down on him from multiple angles, was starting to crush him.
For one, Martin had sat on the postseason sidelines since 2006 when he was a 23-year-old, third-year scorer for the Sacramento Kings, so his adrenaline raced to overload levels as he started the 2013 playoffs for the title-contending Oklahoma City Thunder. Two games in and Russell Westbrook tears his meniscus and is declared out for the remainder of the playoffs, instantly and drastically altering Martin’s role from a sixth-man spot-up shooter.
His burden, though drove much deeper. He was matched up against his old team, the Houston Rockets, and the first-time All-Star he was traded for, James Harden, a beloved figure during his three seasons with Oklahoma City. Failure here would be personally damaging and very likely make for an abbreviated stay with OKC when he becomes a free agent this summer.
Martin is an unrecognizable 17-for-69 from the field through the first give games, 9-for-32 in the first three games without Westbrook and 1-for-10 in a Game 5 home loss that brought the Rockets from down 3-0 to 3-2 with Game 6 in Houston. Martin seemed zapped of confidence and to be losing the battle against himself.
“I think it was all the above,” Martin said. “I hadn’t been to the playoffs in a while. I didn’t know what to expect when I was 23, I was just a kid and I was out there running around as really the sixth or seventh option on that Sacramento team. And then being in the series with Houston, I got a lot of friends over there and had some good years there. It was just an emotional series all the way around.”
Then came Game 6 on his former home court and Martin sprung to life. He started becoming aggressive, becoming playmaker again, slashing, cutting, driving off the dribble, getting to the rim and the free throw line. He dropped 25 points on Houston as the Thunder surged ahead in the fourth quarter of Game 6 to move into the semifinals.
On Sunday, Martin did it again, scoring 25 points to help the Thunder to a 1-0 lead in their second-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Consider the difference: In the first five games against Houston, Martin made just five field goals and went to the free throw line 17 times. In the last two games, he has nine field goals (15-for-27 overall and 6-for-10 beyond the arc) plus 15 free throw attempts. He’s getting in the paint and making the opposition pay.
“Throughout the year I knew my role, I had to be that third-leading scorer beside K.D. [Kevin Durant] and Russ,” Martin said. “And now I need to be that second option. That’s just what the team needs out of me and that’s what I’ll do.”
Martin’s Game 1 production — 8-for-14 from the field, 3-for-5 from 3-point range and 6-for-7 from the free throw line — will force Memphis coach Lionel Hollins to reassess his decision to largely allow Martin to roam without defensive specialist Tony Allen guarding him.
Allen played less than 21 minutes in Game 1 and fewer than seven minutes came with Martin on the floor. And during a three-minute stint in the second quarter when Martin scored 15 of OKC’s 33 points, he burned Allen backdoor for an and-1 layup and then buried a 3-pointer.
During the season with Westbrook in the lineup, Martin’s shooting often told the story of OKC’s outcomes. When he scored in double-digits, the Thunder largely won. And when he didn’t, they struggled, particularly against playoff teams. Now it’s a question of consistency. Martin won’t average 25 points as he has in the last two games, but for OKC to beat Memphis — and beyond — he must continue to be a multidimensional playmaker and shoot at a high percentage.
“We want him to move. He’s our best mover,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “We don’t run an offense for him to stand around in the corner, but he has to do that at times because we have some other dynamic players. But I thought his effort, moving and cutting and allowing himself to get easy shots and get to the free throw line, that’s his game.”
Seattle just got Mutombo-ed again. Only this time, it was the league’s power structure — from the Relocation Committee up to commissioner David Stern himself — who wagged a long finger at the politicians, the money men and the fans of the Emerald City.
“No, no, no,” the committee’s 7-0 vote to deny relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle seemed to say. “Not in my house.”
Or at least, not on Stern’s watch. Our man David Aldridge did a great job of covering both the big picture and the nuances of the surprising decision to recommend to the Board of Governors that the Kings stay put, short-term and possibly long-term.
Various Seattle media outlets did their own great jobs of providing perspective, with a little venting, for that disheartened and in some cases bitter audience. For example, columnist Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Timessuggests the NBA “changed the rules” for procuring and moving franchises:
[Seattle bidder Chris] Hansen tried to win the right way. He tried to do it with transparency; no buying the Kings and pretending to want to stay in Sacramento. He tried to do it with record-setting money and a polished business plan.
But the NBA is a liar’s game, full of hypocrites, improper alliances, a lack of financial creativity and a commissioner who is more powerful than the owners he represents. Stern revises the rules according to his whims. It seems Seattle was destined to lose in this ever-changing game. We’re back in a familiar place with that spirit-crushing league.
Brewer wrote that Seattle only will get a shot at re-admittance to the NBA — by buying and moving some other city’s team or through expansion — after Stern’s retirement on Feb. 1, 2014. Longtime columnist Art Thiel, writing for SportspressNW.com, also saw the vote as an extension of Stern’s will:
Delighted by the rising value of his franchises — Job One for any sports commissioner — but looking at another potential ugly relocation, Commissioner David Stern gave every chance for Sacramento to match the record Hansen bid. For one reason: He didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.
Rather than screw over a second city with relocation, he has screwed over, at least temporarily, the same city twice.
At worst, he figures he can live the rest of his days with never getting a drink brought for him in Seattle.
It’s possible that moving the Kings from Sacramento to Seattle would just shift the problem and hack off a whole new bunch of people. It also is possible, as Thiel suggests, that keeping Seattle open as a viable market gives the NBA leverage over shaky franchises or headstrong municipalities not unlike the NFL has with Los Angeles in waiting for someone’s team.
Another possibility, intentionally or not, is that the NBA is teaching a lesson to the decision-makers in its many markets: Love us now, not after we’ve gone.
Seattle did not play nice with the NBA prior to 2008, fighting Clay Bennett (who is the head of the relocation committee, by the way) and not budging on financing for a new arena. Sacramento, on the other hand, has rolled up its sleeves and been busy finding ways to keep its only major league caliber team in town.
That’s the sort of commitment — before things get broken, not after it’s too late — that Stern and the other owners (who love $550 million franchise valuations and the freedom to sell or move when they want) treasure most.
In the meantime, Stern was right as this Kings/Sonics decision approached. One city or the other was going to be unhappy. Now there’s no more guessing.
The NBA’s relocation and finance committees will have a conference call on Monday, April 29, and make a recommendation on whether to approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based group that would move the team there next season or to reject the sale and keep the team in Sacramento.
After the recommendation is officially delivered to the NBA, the league’s owners will have seven business days to contemplate what to do and to conduct a final vote. That would mean the league could have a final vote as early as Wednesday, May 8, though it does not mean they would vote that day.
The NBA’s Board of Governors did not take a vote on whether to allow the sale from the Maloof Family to a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at its annual meeting earlier this month. The city of Sacramento, led by Mayor Kevin Johnson, has put together an ownership group led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov that has put in a bid to buy the team from the Maloofs and keep them in Sacramento.
Both cities have received local approval for building new arenas that would take some public funding as part of the construction costs. Owners on the committees wanted more information concerning the schedules each city has for constructing the building, as well as potential environmental and legal issues each city faces before construction can begin.
The Hansen group reached agreement with the Maloofs in January to purchase 65 percent of the team, on a franchise valuation of $525 million, equaling $341 million for the 65 percent, and gave a $30 million non-refundable deposit to the Maloofs. Earlier this month, after the Ranadive group made it clear to owners it would match the Hansen offer, Hansen announced his group would “voluntarily” raise its franchise valuation of the Kings to $550 million, meaning an additional $16.5 million would go to the Maloofs, for $357.5 million for 65 percent of the team.
The Ranadive group has matched the $525 million valuation, but has not yet opted to match the $550 million valuation. According to a letter released by the Maloofs earlier this month, the Ranadive group has pledged a $15 million non-refundable deposit.
The Maloofs have consistently told the league that they want to take the deal with the Hansen group. But Commissioner David Stern has been adamant that while the NBA generally allows owners to sell to whomever they like, the league will make the determination whether the Kings will be allowed to move.
A vote to approve a sale requires three-quarters of the league’s owners, or 23 of the 30. A vote to approve a franchise move requires a simple majority, or 16 of the league’s 30 owners.
If the Cleveland Cavaliers have their way, that won’t just be a question … it’ll be a reality. The Cavaliers’ coaching search shifted from reuniting with former coach Mike Brown to focusing on another, much more accomplished former Los Angeles Lakers coach.
The Cavs have entered the Zen Master’s zone, per a report from ESPN.com, as they reached out to the “retired” Jackson to gauge his interest in coming aboard to help revive the franchise. It’s not the first time the Cavs have approached Jackson:
Jackson interviewed with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert in 2005, when Gilbert was looking for a coach. That year, Gilbert ended up hiring Mike Brown.
Brown and the Cavs have mutual interest in a reunion. Gilbert and Brown met over dinner Sunday night, a league source confirmed.
Jackson is considering other coaching options, sources said. The Brooklyn Nets and possibly the Sacramento Kings – if they relocate to Seattle — are two teams likely to appeal to Jackson more than the Cavaliers, according to sources close to the situation.
The Nets reached out to Jackson before even firing coach Avery Johnson last fall and are expected to check his interest again following the season. The Seattle-based group attempting to purchase and relocate the Kings, led by investor Chris Hansen, is interested in bringing Jackson on board in an executive role if it wins approval for the deal, sources said.
Jackson is believed to be looking for a similar situation as Pat Riley has with the Miami Heat– oversee personnel moves and mentor a head coach. To land and keep Riley, the Heat gave him a deal that included an ownership stake in the franchise.
Jackson entertaining an offer to get back into coaching is one thing. To dive into a situation in need of as much rebuilding work as the Cavs require, however, seems like a longshot. All-Star Kyrie Irving is a promising young talent and the Cavaliers will have financial flexibility this summer, but they just don’t fit Jackson’s usual profile.
With a number of potential coaching vacancies this summer, and Jackson high on the wish list in each and every instance, it makes sense for the Cavaliers to be proactive in their pursuit of arguably the best coach in NBA history.
Whether or not that pursuit produces anything other than interesting headlines and lots of chatter remains to be seen.
NEW YORK – Ran into Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson just before noon on the sidewalk here Friday. He was looking awfully casual for a civic leader whose NBA franchise and claim as a major-league sports market was being bandied about at that moment.
The NBA Board of Governors meeting — the place where the Sacramento King’s future was being discussed and eventually will be determined — was being held in a midtown Manhattan hotel. But Johnson was dressed in athletic gear, heading out for an afternoon almost like a tourist. Turns out he cleared his schedule and purchased airline tickets for the cross-country trek, based on early reports that the franchise’s fate — Sacramento? Seattle? — would be decided this week.
It won’t. Johnson’s trip had turned ceremonial, informal and a show of earnestness for anyone wondering about his city’s commitment. The mayor said his information is that the league will continue to address the Kings’ sale and possible relocation next week, with a BOG vote at some point after that.
“There were no presentations for today,” said Johnson, the former Phoenix Suns All-Star guard. “I’ve been told that we’ll be able to address the board again before a vote.”
So how was Johnson going to spend Friday afternoon? “We’re getting a tour of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn,” he said. “And I’m ‘on call’ if I’m needed over at the [Governors] meeting.”
With discussion but not determination of the Kings, the main agenda items Friday include reports on revenue sharing and the collective bargaining agreement, an anti-drug program report and updates from the international and competition committees.
You’re an NBA owner. Sacramento or Seattle: Who do you pick, and why?
Steve Aschburner: Where is King Solomon, or at least Solomon Jones, when we need him? Slicing the franchise in half like the Biblical baby could work, right? If the folks in Washington are fine with Sea-Tac Airport, so why not Sea-Sac basketball? Split the home games, deck ‘em out in purple and green … OK, so that would not work. No more tap-dancing to delay the inevitable. And the inevitable, if I’m an NBA owner, is that I vote what’s in mybest interest.That means Seattle, for its bigger market size and for the right some day to maybe transfer my franchise where I want to, without too much intervention from the league or anyone else. These guys are businessmen. Intangibles and loyalty aren’t nothing, but they do have price tags.
NBA owners meet again this week to continue their deliberations on what to do with competing offers for the Sacramento Kings. (By Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Fran Blinebury: So very deviously evil of the Quizmaster to present us with Sophie’s Choice. Are you gonna give the good citizens of Seattle or Sacramento — not to mention Scott Howard-Cooper — our home addresses when we pick the other guy? The truth is we can’t make the decision, because we don’t have all of the financial facts and contract terms available to the owners. If you’re asking me where I’d rather spend a June afternoon during the NBA Finals, order me a dirty martini on the rooftop deck at the Pink Door, just an olive’s throw from Pike Place Market. But then where would I get my cowbell fix? My guess is it’s going to come down to which city can get the new arena up and running faster. In that case, we’ll likely be raising our glasses to the loud memories of Sacramento. Shaken, not stirred.
Jeff Caplan: First, let me say that I love the city of Seattle and I miss it dearly on the NBA map. I wish for the SuperSonics to soon return. However, not at the expense of the city of Sacramento and the great fans there for so many years (cowbells notwithstanding). Without having direct knowledge of the intricate details of each deal, it does appear that Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has done an incredible job to put together an ownership group and an arena deal that will take Kings basketball out of the cow pasture and into a colorful downtown scene. I hated the way the Sonics were ripped from Seattle. And I would hate to see the same happen to Sac. If there was not a competitive deal on the table, that would be one thing. But, it certainly appears that there is.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I pickthe location that is going to be best for the NBA. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not. Some may want the decision that benefits their team – more small market teams is good for owners in small markets, a team in Seattle means a few more bucks in owners’ pockets on relocation fee, etc. In other words, I’m not voting until my fellow owners do in real life. I say there could be more unexpected developments.
John Schuhmann: I have no dog in this fight and it sucks that one of these two cities will be without a team. But if there’s nothing wrong with the Seattle agreement, the Seattle ownership group or their arena plan, then I guess I’d have to approve that agreement, because it’s already in place. I’m just glad that, no matter which city wins, the franchise is going to have new ownership and management. The Kings have been a disaster for the last five years and the problems start at the top. The Maloofs have put minimal money into the team and Geoff Petrie hasn’t helped with his decision making. So as long as we’re getting a smarter and more viable group to replace the one currently in charge, I’ll be happy.
Sekou Smith: For sentimental reasons, this is an impossible choice to make for an incumbent owner. Luckily for said owner, this is a business decision. Taking the fans and their feelings into consideration could be dangerous. And this is not a fair fight between cities. Sacramento is a fine town, but Seattle is a world class city that anyone who has ever visited there knows well. So instead of weighing all of the pros and cons of each city, you go with the Benjamins baby. I’m taking the best offer. And from every indication, that offer can be found in Seattle. You have to ignore the history and the heart tugging from the fans and make a business decision.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It all comes down to this, the final night of the NBA regular season.
We’re not used to the one-and-done stuff around here, not when champions are crowned in a best-of-seven environment. It’s rare that we get to see teams dealing with a 48-minute cauldron that decides their fate (there are still tons of moving parts, as we detailed earlier in our complex playoff scenarios update). For some that means determining whether or nor they make the playoffs at all. For others it’s the difference between a desired (or dreaded) seed in the playoffs. And for some, that means whether or not you host a first-round series or start on the road.
Either way, it all comes down to this one night. The clock is winding down on the regular season for everyone. All 30 teams are on the schedule tonight, but the finale means a little more for the teams involved in these matchups:
ATLANTA HAWKS at NEW YORK KNICKS (8 p.m. ET, League Pass): The Hawks were supposed to be fighting for the fifth seed Tuesday night against Toronto, but they didn’t look like they had a whole lot of fight in them during that TNT broadcast. The Hawks went through the motions during their home finale (without Al Horford) and got pounded by the Raptors. The Knicks will rest Carmelo Anthony and others heading into this weekend’s playoff opener, so the Hawks should have an edge. They have to finish with a better record than the Bulls to get the fifth seed, because the Bulls own the tie-breaker. An interesting side note: Anthony has already locked up his first scoring title without even suiting up since Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durantsaid on Instagram he won’t play tonight in Milwaukee.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS at CHICAGO BULLS (8 p.m. ET, League Pass): The beautiful thing about the Bulls under coach Tom Thibodeau is that they’ll never be accused of not pushing it to the max every night of the season. This should be no different. Thibs will make sure his team shows up with the same nasty disposition for this game that they did for the 81 games that came before it. The Bulls want that No. 5 seed because Thibs won’t allow them to backslide into anything. And this notion that the Hawks and Bulls would rather avoid the No. 5 seed, and the potential second-round matchup against the Heat that comes with it, is laughable. You have to get past the Brooklyn Nets before you get to worry about the Heat.
UTAH JAZZ at MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): This is truly a win-or-go-home game for the Jazz. They have to win this game to keep their season alive and then they have to start their rain dance in the locker room and root for the Houston Rockets to upend the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center (10:30 ET, ESPN). The only problem for the Jazz? The Grizzlies need this game just as bad. Their seed is set, they’re going into the Western Conference playoffs at No. 5. But they can still host their first-round series by virtue of having a better record than the Los Angeles Clippers, provided the Clippers wind up at No. 4 (more on this below). This one will have all of the intensity of a playoff elimination game. It’s must-see TV!
PHOENIX SUNS at DENVER NUGGETS (8 p.m. ET, League Pass): The Nuggets have home court locked up, but their seed hangs in the balance tonight. George Karl‘s crew can clinch the No. 3 spot with a win over the Suns or if the Los Angeles Clippers fall in Sacramento. The Nuggets need to handle their business first and foremost, though, because if they end up with the same record as the Clippers, they lose out on the tie-breaker even after winning the season series with the Pacific Division champs. The No. 3 seed also keeps the Nuggets from having to face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.
HOUSTON ROCKETS at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (10:30 p.m., ESPN):Kobe Bryant will be watching (from his home in Orange County as he’s been ordered to stay off of his surgically repaired torn Achilles) and willing his Lakers to a much-needed victory and into the playoffs in his absence. His playoff guarantee is on the line. But at least the Lakers, winners of four straight, control their own destiny. All they have to do is win. The Rockets, on the other hand, could land anywhere from No. 6 to No. 8 (it’s complicated). But this is all about the Lakers and Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, and whether or not these two big men can drive the Lakers into the playoffs and into a space where they can make the noise Bryant promised they would in the first round.
L.A. CLIPPERS at SACRAMENTO KINGS (10:30 p.m. ET, League Pass): The Clippers’ march to the Pacific crown guarantees them of a top-four seed in the Western Conference. But being No. 4 does not guarantee them home-court advantage (as explained above) if they get locked into a 4-5 matchup with a Grizzlies team that could finish the season with a better record. I’m sure the Clippers love Beale Street and dinners at the Rendezvous like we all do, but it would be a shame if they have to celebrate the first division title in franchise history by going on the road to start the playoffs.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS at PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (10:30 p.m. ET, League Pass): All the Warriors have to do is win to lock down the No. 6 seed. Lose, however, and things get a bit sticky. They’ve worked too hard this season to allow the Houston Rockets to decide their playoff picture. (Houston can finish as high as No. 6 and as low as No. 8, depending on how things shake out tonight around the Western Conference.) But they might not have a choice since the Rockets and Lakers will be finished playing before they get done in Portland tonight.
Bottom line, the playoffs start tonight for every team on this list!
Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: As our own Steve Aschburner wrote about before last night’s Knicks-Bulls tilt from Chicago, coach Tom Thibodeau has once again done an amazing job of keeping this Bulls team together all season long. Aside from the scotch-tape job he has done with Chicago’s lineups all season, Thibodeau apparently is the master when it comes to ending a foe’s opposing win streak. The Bulls already had Miami’s 27-game run on their kill list and last night, they added the Knicks 13-game run to it. Nate Robinson was at his best last night, dropping in 35 points and coming up with the hustle plays and backbreaking shots that are a hallmark of his game when he is on.
Parker, Popovich can’t agree on return date — Up until March 1 against the Sacramento Kings, Tony Parker was in the midst of an MVP-type season. But that night in San Antonio, Parker severely sprained his left ankle and missed 22 days before returning to play (and star) in an OT win over the Jazz. He looked just like his old self for a while, but then suffered a neck injury in a loss at Oklahoma City on April 4 and has been out of the lineup since. Parker is hoping to come back soon, but the exact date on that, according to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News, depends on who you ask:
On his way to the team bus after a loss to the Nuggets in which Gregg Popovich would not allow him to play Tony Parker, the Spurs’ All-Star point guard, made a promise he hopes the coach will allow him to keep on Friday night.
“I’m playing Friday,” Parker said without breaking stride as he focused on Friday’s game against the Kings at the AT&T Center.
For a team disheartened all the more by the pre-game news that forward Boris Diaw has been ruled out of action for two to three weeks with a sprained lower back (technically, a sprained lumbar facet), Parker’s vow was music to his teammates’ ears.
The Spurs leader in points scored and assists, the five-time All-Star hasn’t played since an April 4 game at Oklahoma City in which his most recent injury, a sore neck, resulted in his lowest output of the season: two points, on 1-for-6 shooting.
Parker will have to convince Popovich he is completely recovered from a variety of ailments if he wants to suit up against the Sacramento Kings Friday. The Spurs coach said he would re-visit the issue with Parker after a Friday morning shootaround.
“We’ll see how he feels,” Popovich said after Wednesday’s game in Denver.
In the wake of a published report saying the organization privately hopes Doug Collins doesn’t return next season as 76ers coach, his agent claims it will be Collins’ call.
“The relationship with Doug, me and Sixers management has been terrific,” said John Langel during a Thursday afternoon telephone conversation. “What they told me beyond this season and as recently as today and yesterday is how long Doug stays here is Doug’s decision.”
Langel denied rumblings that the story, which cited multiple unnamed NBA sources, in Thursday’s Philadelphia Inquirer originated from Collins’ camp.
Sixers spokesman Mike Preston said, “We are aware of the report and will not comment on a column loaded with innuendo and speculation.”
In October, Sixers majority owner Josh Harris announced the team had picked up a fourth-year option (for the 2013-14 season) on Collins’ contract. It is believed to be worth $4.5 million.
Sixers CEO Adam Aron has repeatedly — and as recently as last month — said management would like for Collins to coach the team beyond next season.
Harris is expected to meet with the media next Thursday, the day after the end of the regular season.
Report: Bulls likely to add Mirotic in 2014 — Back in the 2011 Draft, the Chicago Bulls pulled off a trade that day with the Houston Rockets to pick up Real Madrid star Nikola Mirotic. Since then, he’s been stashed overseas and is developing his game while Bulls fans salivate over the prospect of having a talent like Mirotic on the roster soon. Bulls fans should get their due soon, though, writes ESPNChicago.com, as the Bulls are poised to add Mirotic to the roster come 2014:
Chicago Bulls fans eager for Nikola Mirotic to join the team that drafted him with the 24th pick in 2011 will likely have to wait until the summer of 2014, general manager Gar Forman explained.
“You’re slotted in the first round, and I think the slot for No. 24 is $1.3 or $1.4 million,” Forman said Thursday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “Well, he makes a lot more money than that right now over at Real Madrid. So the way the CBA is written is after three years then you’re no longer slotted. Then you can use whether it’s exception room or cap room in order to pay a guy.
“So there’s no possibility this summer because next year will be his third year. But after next year, the summer of 2014, then we’ll be able to start some negotiations as far as a buyout possibly with Real Madrid or negotiate with him to come over here.”
The 6-10 forward has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki and Danilo Gallinari.
“He reminds me of Dirk and a little bit of Gallo, just a little bit,” said Memphis center Zach Randolph, who played against Mirotic in an exhibition game. “But I can see the Dirk comparisons. I can see why, definitely.”
Some thought Mirotic could play small forward, but Forman said he’ll be a power forward.
“We’re really, really excited about him,” Forman said. “We built a relationship with him, we’re in constant communication. John (Paxson) and I went up and saw him this fall when he played at Memphis and at Toronto in a couple NBA exhibitions, and we think the ceiling there is incredible.
“He’s probably a four, but he’s very, very skilled. He shoots it from 3, can handle it, good mobility. And he’s a tough, tough kid.”
Report: Stern my decide on Kings’ future — Originally, the Sacramento Kings’ future was to be decided at the April 18-19 Board of Governors meeting, but after groups from Sacramento and Seattle gave their presentations on April 3, that deadline was pushed back (as our David Aldridge reports). More developments have come along (as our Scott Howard-Cooper reports) and the future of the Kings remains very much in doubt. Sam Amick of USA Today, though, says that Commissioner David Stern could be the deciding vote in whether or not the Kings move or stay put:
When David Stern announced he would retire next February, his 30th anniversary as NBA commissioner, he likely thought he had seen it all.
But here he is, in the 11th hour of a tenure that has been historic and memorable in many ways, directing traffic in an unprecedented affair, this fight for the Kings between Sacramento and Seattle, that will leave a lasting note on his legacy. And with a week left before the Board of Governors meetings in New York, when a vote on the matter likely will take place, this much has become abundantly clear: Stern still wields considerable influence, and strong signs persist that he’s doing all he can to keep the team in Sacramento.
For all of Stern’s talk of playing a merely advisory role, the growing sentiment from all sides is the commissioner, who has always been clear about his distaste for relocation, is determined to avoid having a sixth team change cities on his watch. And he remains powerful enough to pull it off. The story line is sticky, of course, because of the way the league moved the Seattle SuperSonics to the Oklahoma City in 2008 and the widely held assumption that Stern was hellbent on returning the NBA to Seattle before he retired.
This is a good problem to have for Stern and his successor, deputy commissioner Adam Silver. They clearly are smitten with the potential global impact that could come with Sacramento’s lead investor, Indian software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, but might have a hard time denying Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his deep pockets. Rumors of expansion as the potential solution to satisfy both sides persist, but Stern has said consistently it is not an option at the moment. The reality remains that one city will go home unhappy.
Monroe, Drummond rising for Pistons — Detroit is in the midst of a fourth straight season of winning less than 40 percent of their games and have a 50-plus loss season for the third time in four seasons. But in the midst of a losing campaign and more rebuilding, the Pistons have found some hope in their frontcourt tandem of rookie big man Andre Drummond and second-year center Greg Monroe. Richard Hardy of HoopsWorld.com has more on the Pistons’ developing duo and the prospects for a brighter future in Detroit:
After selecting Andre Drummond in this year’s draft, the Detroit Pistons had a potential log-jam at the center position. Just two years earlier they had selected Greg Monroe. Both players have shown that they deserve to be starters in this league and rather trading one of them, the Pistons opted to move Monroe over to power forward, hoping that the two can player together.
“We’ve put Greg in a situation where he’s playing a different position than he’s used to,” Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank said. “He’s responded very positively and we just want him to continue to progress in these last 16 quarters of basketball.”
At 6’11 and 250 lbs, Monroe is deceptively quick. Frank believes that in time Monroe can thrive at the four, regardless of what teams throw at him.
“Greg’s ability, with his size and skill level, to put the ball on the floor and make decisions is critical,” Frank said. “His low-post game continues to expand and he’s continuing to gain more and more confidence in his 15-foot jump shot. Defensively, when you look at the last 10 to 12 games, he’s had some really good individual defensive challenges that he’s responded to.”
Although Drummond and Monroe are similar in size, Drummond insists that their games are radically different.
“I do all the dirty work,” Drummond said. “Greg is the fundamental guy. He has the ability to hit the jump shot and he can pass the ball really well. He does all the active stuff and I clean up around the rim. We complement each other and for me, the game is easier when he’s out there.”
Monroe has been impressed with what Drummond has been able to do in such a short amount of time in the NBA. Although he agrees with Drummond about them being different players, he also sees similarities in their games.
“Andre is someone who’s very comfortable around the rim,” Monroe said. “He can run the floor and he’s a better passer than people give him credit for. I think both of us are pretty unselfish and we both have a ton of room for growth moving forward.”
ICYMI of the night: Chris Anderson, formerly of the Nuggets, has just been getting victimized by his old teammates. The latest to slam on him? None other than Washington’s Nene … :