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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kings Not Going to Seattle?

There's an old adage - fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The NBA has done it again to Seattle.

Ok, so the owners have voted the move to Seattle down. Time to look at this rom a different perspective - the true cost of this maneuver.

I've believed all along that this is less about the value of keeping the Kings in SacTown and more about KJ's personal political aspirations. Few truly understand what this has really been about, but some 'get it'. That is not to say he hasn't done a solid job rallying the troops to this cause – that’s unquestionable – the question is at what cost? What about Campbell's leaving town ending thousands of jobs? What about the school closures they endure because they can't even fund basic education? Yeah, those don’t reap big headlines, do they, Mr. Mayor?

This isn't about Seattle vs. Sacramento - that's what KJ is selling and it's easy (and shameful) to do. Both cities have great fans; that’s undeniable. KJ is playing the ‘us against them’ tactic as a hollow, predicable and successful rallying cry, in a blatant diversionary tactic to hide the fact that Sacramento's economic situation tells us they cannot afford this.

This isn't about the fans, this is basic economics. Those that can get past the emotional element that KJ has been exploiting have to be scratching their head at Sacramento's ability to actually finance this in a city that is basically broke - and the moral obligation to the betterment of Sacramento that has been tossed aside by KJ in his power play to further his political aspirations. Eventually, the faux arena plan will likely fall apart in SacTown because it will be revealed for what it really is; a smoke an mirror routine. But for now, he will trumpet this as a victory. I hope for SacTown’s sake they can pull it off – the fans deserve it – but what about the taxpayers?

The arena plan is not at all solid, they don't own the land, they are suggesting parking meter revenue will pay for it (how can you not laugh at that?) -and that in the end, after KJ has left the mayor's office for another one, the true cost for this, will be handed off to the taxpayers after he is gone from office.

It's the perfect crime - jump on an emotional issue - win that issue - reap all the glory - and after everything has calmed down, cooler heads prevail (after most importantly, after KJ is gone, the next administration will be left with the true cost.

Seattle had the perfect plan. They'll be fine with or without the NBA, but can the citizens of Sacramento really afford to be footing the bill for KJ's political aspirations? Too bad we'll finds out after it's too late.

Meanwhile in Seattle, they have a solid and approved arena plan, they land is owned by Hansen and they have the money to do all of this. Getting fooled twice by the NBA could be a blessing for the NHA - perhaps the NBA's latest debacle will turn Seattle into a hockey town.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Offer for Kings Announced; Too Little, Too Late?

The bid is in, but is it too little too late?

Kevin Johnson has announced an offer by a potential buyer for the Kings who would, theoretically anyway, keep the team in SacTown. Details of the offer were not announced but it is led by Ron Burkle of Oracle fame and Mark Mastrov of 24-Hour Fitness fame. I can see it now; the Kings new practice facility will be the local 24-Hour Fitness gym near you. Think of the money they'll save and the wonderful product placement opportunity for Mastrov! This deal is a no-brainer, right?

The offer is 'competitive' according to Johnson, but less than the offer from the Hansen/Ballmer group. It's odd that a ownership group stepping forward at the 11th hour would bid less then the existing offer, making it all the more baffling. If they wanted to really help their cause, wouldn't they bid more? Maybe KJ is gonna kick in some of that parking meter money.

The next step is the NBA BOG's approval voting in April - they'll either approve the Hansen/Ballmer offer and move forward with the relocation, or they'll reject it. Rejection seems highly unlikely. A $30 million dollar deposit has been paid out, thus making their sale legit and approval likely a mere formality. It would be unthinkable that the deal would get stuck on a contract formality that went unnoticed as these guys have all the legal resources in the world to ensure that doesn't happen.

It's my understanding that the 'right of first refusal' claim, that minority owners are suggesting could negate the sale, could be rendered null and void by an ownership of 65% or more of the team - which the Ballmer/Hansen group would have according to the terms of the deal. That could get tricky, or it could be crystal clear in the deal terms, which I am not privy to.

I cannot imagine a scenario where the BOG rejects the sale. If that happened I believe Ballmer/Hansen would sue the NBA and challenge their legal authority to veto a binding and legal sale. This then turns into an anti-trust lawsuit and the NBA cannot have that played out in court, as they likely cannot win. Like most major sports leagues, they basically are a monopoly. That's why every year when the leagues strike and it's the labor unions vs. the league, the labor union always threatens to disband and sue the leagues under anti-trust laws. The issues always miraculously get resolved when that card gets played.

Lastly, the Maloofs are under no obligation whatsoever to sell the team to anyone other than whom they want to. They own it, it's theirs to do with how they please, as long as it is law-abiding. I just don't see a situation where Sacramento keeps the Kings. It's all against them at this point, and anything can happen, we've all seen Laettner's shot that beat Kentucky, so it's possible, but that's pretty much what it's going to take now.

It's likely too little too late.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sonics' Gary Payton Leads HOF Nominees

Sonics point guard Gary Payton, "The Glove," heads the list of finalists named for selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The electees will be announced during the weekend of the NCAA Final Four.

"The Glove" is widely considered one of the best defensive players in NBA history and led the Sonics to The Finals in 1996, losing to Michael Jordan's Bulls. AFter being down 3-0 the Sonics, led by Payton, clsoed the gap to 3-2 before finally losing game 6, and the series.

The Glove is the only point guard tio ever win the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award, grabbing that honor in 1996, en route to their title title run that season. Payton was a nine-time all-star in his 17-year career. For his career, Payton averaged 16.3 ppg and 6.7 assists. He also led the league in trash talking, a record that may stand for a long time. At least he backed it up on the court.

one of the most popular players to ever wear a Sonics uniform, Payton was unceremoniously traded to Milwaukee when he clashed with owner Howard Schultz. The move was widely panned in Seattle. Schultz went on to sell the team to Clay Bennett who blew uop the team, alienated the Seattle fanbase, and ultimately moved it to Oklahoma City. Thanks, Schultz.

Look for Payton's jersey yo be retired in Seattle in the first season of the Sonics return.

Payton will be wearing the green and gold in the Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Maloofs Detail Kings Sale to Bankruptcy Group

In yet another delay that will not affect the sale, but just drag it out, the Maloofs have handed over documentation of the King's sale to the bankruptcy trustee who is tasked with maximizing the 7% stake in the team.

Here's the deal; The Maloofs agreed to sell their 65% stake to the Hansen/Ballmer group, leaving 35% in the hands of several minority owners. By minority owners, I don't mean ethnic minority. Got it? The 7% in question belongs to Bob Cook. Bob declared bankruptcy, cause that's what rich folks do. The trustee charged with liquidating this asset, David Flemmer, is trying to make a claim that the minority owners of the team have a 'right to match' any offer for the team. Naturally, this is where the lawyer, Don Fitzgerald gets involved, drags this out for as long as possible and, voila, has a ton of billable hours to show his boss. Isn't America fun?

The claim is that this would potentially position the minority owners to match Hansen/Ballmer's offer for the team, somehow they'll be able to come up with the $340 million and save the team for the SacTown fans. It's cute, and makes nice press for the SacBee, but is not the reality of the situation. They've had a chance to buy out the Maloofs for years and yet none have stepped forward. Suggesting now they're gonna, and go up against the wealthiest potential ownership group in sports, is laughable. Ballmer and Hansen have over $20 billion in resources. That's billion with a b.

This is a hollow attempt by Flemmer and Fitzgerald to artificially inflate the value of the 7% by potentially creating a bidding war and, realistically, an attempt to coerce the Hansen/Ballmer group to overpay for that 7%. They may just do it, but they don't have to. They already have a deal for the majority stake of the team and this won't change anything.

What's tragic about this move is the hope it stirs for Kings fans. The SacBee and it's ilk will ride this story into the ground in an attempt to drive readers to their site and exploit the ad-sales potential while Flemmer/Fitzgerald exploit the press coverage to monetize thier situation. It's smoke and mirrors. The Kings have been sold, Stern will approve with a smile, the BOG will follow in step, Clay Bennett (who thugged the Sonics, is the most hated man in Seattle and is now, brazenly, chairman of the relocation committee) will rubber stamp his approval and the Sonics will be filling Key Arena next season. Enough with the silly stalling tactics by the lawyers and Kevin Johnson.

Now, what to do about DeMarcus Cousins...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hansen Group Files For Relocation - Kings Closer to Going to Seattle

One step closer to the return of the Supersonics in Seattle. As much as Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson likes to have press conferences claiming to have 'buyers' lined up for the Kings, it just keeps getting clearer that it's a smoke and mirrors routine. The Hansen/Ballmer group have taken the next step in the process and there is nothing KJ can do about it. It's too little, too late, and yes, it's a shame for Kings fans. Welcome to the NBA; now say good bye.

According to the AP, NBA Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday night that the group that has reached agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings has formally filed to relocate the franchise to Seattle.

Stern spoke in Minneapolis before the Timberwolves hosted San Antonio. He called the Seattle group, led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, "very strong," and said the appropriate committees have been convened to look over the proposed sale of the Kings and the prospective move to Seattle.

"We have had submitted a signed agreement to have the team sold to a very strong group from Seattle," Stern said.

The deadline for teams to file for relocation is March 1. It's been expected that the Hansen/Ballmer group would file to move the team, but Stern's comments were the first time that decision has been verified. The filing for relocation is ultimately a procedural step, but a big one in the efforts to bring professional basketball back to Seattle.

Hansen's group reached agreement with the Maloof family last month to buy 65 percent of the franchise, which is valued at $525 million, and move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The deal will cost the Hansen group a little more than $340 million.

The Kings' sale price of $525 million would surpass the NBA record $450 million the Golden State Warriors sold for in 2010.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has been making efforts to find investors with the financial means and could attempt to match the sale price, keep the Kings in Sacramento and help on the construction of a new arena in California's capital city.

Johnson said on Tuesday that he planned to attend the NBA All-Star Game in Houston and lobby anyone he could on the merits of keeping the Kings in Sacramento, but he has yet to reveal any of the large equity investors he's attempting to pull together. Johnson said Tuesday he hoped to be able to announce them next week.

Stern said Wednesday he didn't feel the situation between Seattle and Sacramento would turn into battle to see who can make the most lucrative bid.

"I don't think it's a bidding war," Stern continued. "There's a series of issues that are defined by our constitution that have to be considered. One of the things that our board is mandated to consider is the support for the team in the prior city. So there are real issues for the board to consider, about the buildings, about the likelihood they will be built, about the support from the cities."

Two committees would typically vet both the proposed sale and the move of the franchise to Seattle, but Stern said he has combined the committees into one. The committee will report to the Board of Governors, which is expected to vote on both the sale and the proposed move at its meeting in mid-April.

The sale of the franchise requires just a majority approval of the Board of Governors. The relocation of the franchise would require a three-fourths majority.

"So I did the sensible thing, I combined the committees and said, `You guys figure it out.' We'll see how that works," Stern said.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sonics in Seattle in 2013 - Closer to Reality.

The latest news out of Sacramento is the alleged emergence of their 'whale' who is going to ride (or swim) into town and rescue the Kings from the dastardly Hansen/Ballmer group who's intent is to take them to Seattle.

Apparently Ron Burkle is leading the charge, although, as is consistant with Kevin Johnson's tactics, there has been zero confirmation from Burkle about any interest in this. News reports continue to 'leak' out of Sacramento, conveniently feeding hope to the local fans and media. Reading between the lines, it's clear this is a Hail Mary, a half-court desperation shot by Johnson to minimize the political damage he's going to suffer when the Kings leave town on his watch. It's understandable. It's not even his fault. However, it's too late. Now this is merely face-saving stunt. Even if he could snare his whale, there still is no arena deal in place.

Kevin, you're down by 18 with 30 seconds to go. Is victory possible? Yes. Is it likely? Not very.

The smoking gun in all of this is the $30 million non-refundable deposit Hansen/Ballmer have agreed to. Make no mistake - these guys are smart and savvy and have the best legal teams in the world (arguably, anyway) at their disposal. Hansen is an investment wiz. These guys aren't gambling $30 million without assurances of a return. That money is likely a guarantee that the Maloofs will not negotiate or sell to any other parties, which makes it the smoking gun that this is probably already a done deal, sans some basic formalities. It's unlikely anyone can match the financial resources Hanson and Ballmer (who's worth a reported 17 billion) have, and even if they could, the Maloofs are not obligated to sell to them. That's what $30 million ensures.

As for the approval process, that too is as good as done. Stern wants this to happen, the NBA owners want this to happen, Clay Bennet HAS to move the process forward or get brutalized in the media. The Seattle market is more lucrative, the ownership group determined and hungry to field a winner, and Stern can finally erase the biggest black eye on his tenure; ushering the original Supersonics out of Seattle.

All the evidence points to a done deal in Sacramento.

If you are a fan in Sacramento, beleive me, you have all of Seattle's synmpathies. I went through this when the Sonics were thugged from us, and those were entirely different circumstances, and much more painful. Clay Bennett, now the chairman of the relocation committee (ironic, huh?) biought the team and announced many times he was keeping them in Seattle. Later, the evidence proved he was lying the whole time. Not only that, but Bennett systematicall destroyed the franchise and alienated the fan base to expedite the move. It's all documented in Sonicsgate the movie.

Hanson/Ballmer are transparent in their intent to buy and move the team

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sonics Return Now Just a Formality: ZombieSonics Celebrate by Losing to Nuggets

It's basically over in Sacramento for the Kings. It's not the fan's fault but rather the result of a perfect storm. The Maloofs tainted the franchise and ran it into the ground and alienated the local fan base on the way down. It's sad, really.

This situation ran head-on into Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, two Seattleites who want an NBA team back in Seattle, and have the means to make it a reality. Hansen has set up the arena deal; he and Ballmer have (over) paid for the Kings, just to ensure their sale.

They'll have the support of the NBA owners, Stern and the City of Seattle. Make no mistake, this deal is done. There are some details to be cleaned up, but it's over. Kevin Johnson's Hail Mary's are not aimed at keeping the team, they are a PR stunt from a Mayor who doesn't want the stink of the City's loss of a franchise on his watch...come election time. Any opponent will try and use that against him, as unfair as that may be. This is KJ understanding that and wringing every 'option' from the situation.

The ZombieSonics of OKC went out and celebrated this announcement on Saturday by losing in overtime to the woeful Denver Nuggets. CLearly Durant was distracted at the wonderful news and was daydreaming about his inevitable return to the Jet City and the franchise that drafted him - the Seattle SuperSonics. Yes, Kevin, Seattle will welcome you back with open arms.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rumors of a Done Deal Swirling

And in yet another development, Matt Steinmetz, an NBA analyst for the CSN Bay Area is reporting via twitter that the deal has been closed, unofficially of course.

The sale is reportedly for $525 million with the Maloofs retaining no ownership stake whatsoever - walking away with the cash and nothing else.

Maloofs Making Desperate Cling to Power Play?

The latest news out of Sacramento is that there's been a 'snag' in the negotiations between the Hansen/Ballmer group and the Maloofs. And by 'snag' I mean total idiocy.

The rumor is that the Maloofs want to keep a small percentage of the team, which is their right to bargain for, but they want to 'have input' in how the team will be run.

Wait, what?

The Maloofs have singlehandedly run the Kings into the ground. They have alienated the Sacramanto fans by threatening to leave, signing a deal to stay and backing out of the deal at the 11th hour. Now they have a bird in hand with this potential sale. They gave up control of the Palms casino in Vegas after losing a fortune there.

In summary; they lost the Palms, ruined the Kings, alienated the entire Sactown fan base and have been completely unprofessional in all thier dealings - and they want to 'have input'?

Yeah, don't see that happening, guys.

I'd be surprised if the Hansen/Ballmer group allowed the Maloofs to retain any ownership stake in the team. They've been bad for business an I can't imagine they want that circus up in Seattle. The Hansen/Ballmer group may be willing to over pay for a team, but they aren't going to be held hostage. That won't happen. They've waited this long, they'll wait it out until the right deal is done, sensible heads prevail, or they'll move on.

It's almost imperative this deal gets done - for the sake of the closing this chapter on the Maloofs and the Kings. It's becoming a Tebow-like circus. Somewhere behind closed doors, David Stern must be gnashing his teeth. Stern ushered the SuperSonics out of Seattle and publicly regrets it - this is his golden opportunity to right that wrong as his tenure as Commish is drawing to an end.

Until the next chapter...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

All Signs Point North - Kings Moving to Seattle.

Internet rumors are running rampant that the sale of the Sacrmento Kings to the Seattle group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and San Francisco hedge fund manager Steve Hanson could be imminent.

Premilinary details, via Yahoo sports and twitter, suggest the team will be sold for around $500 million, but with the intent and understanding they will move the team to Seattle in time for the 2013/14 season. The team, which will be renamed the Sonics, an homage to the team that was moved to Oklahoma City four miserable years ago.

The Sonics were formed in 1967 in Seattle and won the city's only modern era championship in 1979. In 2007, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, embittered by the difficulties of owning an NBA team, sold the team to an Oklahoma contingent who proceded to gut the team's players and Seattle personnel en route to moving the team to Oklahoms City, despite repeated insistance they boought the team to keep it in Seattle. It's arguably the darkest day in Seattle sports history as the Sonics were notoriously popular in Seattle, the Northwest and around the country.

Details are still emerging, and as of now the deal is not complete. The Maloofs have backed out of several deals at the 11th hour before, so while this is not a confirmed deal, all signs point to a deal being imminent. The Maloofs allegedly agreed to a deal for a new arena in Sacramanto last year, but famously backed out, thus alienating themselves in the city the Kings have called home since 1985. The Maloofs have fallen on hard times financially as their Las Vegas club The Palms is losing money.

The sale of the team seemed a forgoen conclusion to those follwing the story. It was just amatter of finding the right opportunity. That's when Ballmer and Hanson fell in their lap. The teams most often mentioned as a potential destination for the beleaguered Kings franchise were Anaheim, Virginia Beach and Kansas City. VB recently pulled out of the running, Anaheim has been considered too tricky due to having the Clippers and Lakers in that market already, and KC doesn't appear to have any momentum.

Steve Hanson emerged last year when he led the charge to build a multi-purpose area in the "South of Downtown" area of Seattle (aka SODO). The new arena, funded by a mix or private and public funding, will be built on the south end of where the Seahawks stadium is. Hanson bought the land with the intent to build an arena and bring the NBA, and possibly a n NHL team, to Seattle.