NBA AM: Where Do The Kings Go From Here?
Now What?: Sometimes when faced with two tough choices, you hope that one choice will make itself more attractive than the other. You hope that the details, once laid out, will make one option just a little more appealing than the other.
That was the case yesterday in New York as the NBA’s Relocation and Finance Committee heard proposals from both a Seattle-based group that has a binding letter of agreement to purchase the majority share of the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family, and an insurgent counter-proposal spearheaded by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson with the intention of keeping the Kings in Sacramento.
Both groups explained their situations to the eight assembled owners (chairman of board Peter Holt, Glenn Taylor, Clay Bennett, Jim Dolan, Ted Leonsis, Larry Tanenbaum, Herb Simon and Wyc Grousbeck) and several league representatives. The groups outlined their new arena plans, outlined the structure of their respective ownership groups. They walked the committees through the sales and revenue projections both groups have and answered mountains of questions about the details of their plans.
While the Sacramento group clearly won the day with the media, joking, laughing and having fun with the gathered press, the Seattle group was far more reserved and stoic; they were almost guarded in their answers, but the truth of the matter is while Sacramento’s Group certainly exuded confidence publicly, it was clear when NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed the media that no one separated themselves in the room and that there were far more questions surrounding the future of the Sacramento Kings than answers.
“We heard a day full of extraordinary presentations of a complex real estate, arena, construction time lines, potential obstacles and team funding in two really great cities,” said Stern.
“It was a long day without any breaks, and both sides made in my view very, very strong presentations.”
Despite the political posturing, neither group has a completed arena. They both have approved funding plans, but both have serious open ended questions that remain unanswered. It seems neither group convinced the committees they would have a new arena in place before the 2017 NBA season. Sacramento says they can deliver theirs in 2016, but there are doubts; that’s an issue that the committees yesterday wanted more clarity on.
“There are questions that the committee has asked us,” said Stern. “To go back and seek details and answers on with respect to exact structure, capital commitments, construction timelines, potential obstacles, given the fact that in either case, we’ll be playing in, shall I say, sub-optimal arenas for some period of time that it’s difficult to precisely tie it down given the fact that there is no finality to the construction schedules in either city.
“And so we have a lot of work that we have to do from a construction timeline, a regulatory timeline, an ownership and capital structure timeline, and all kinds of other things that the committee has asked us to go back with lawyers and just get a lot more data and information.”
The hope was that one group would win the day, which did not come to fruition. The hope that some closure and some finality would emerge from yesterday’s gathering also did not yield anything close to that. So the saga over Sacramento will drag on possibility beyond the Board of Governors’ meeting scheduled for April 18th, when this issue was expected to be voted on.
The NBA does have some real hard deadlines with regards to season ticket and sponsorship sales as well as committing to dates for next season’s NBA schedule, so there is a tremendous amount of urgency, the problem is yesterday yielded more questions than answers.
IN RELATED: There is a dilemma of process brewing with the NBA Board of Governors’ related to the possible sale of the Sacramento Kings.
The issue before the board is an application of transfer from the Maloof family to the Chris Hansen/Steve Ballmer group in Seattle.
The Board will vote on whether to approve or not approve that transaction. What they cannot do is choose Sacramento. They can vote no, and hope the Maloof’s choose Sacramento as a fallback option, but the board can’t make the Maloof family sell the team to a Sacramento group.
Herein lies the dilemma of process.
The Maloof’s yesterday reaffirmed their desire to sell to Hansen and Ballmer, although there have been reports that they were open and amenable to everything discussed in the room.
Unless the Maloof’s turn to Sacramento as an alternative to a Seattle bid, the bylaws of the NBA give the current owner control over their franchise, assuming the new perspective owner meets all the qualification outlined by the NBA, the Board of Governors can vote “yes” or “no” on the transfer.
The only way the NBA can take over a team is if the owner violates very specific rules outlined in the Bylaws, which the Maloof’s have not done.
And before you get too far down the road on the idea of an expansion team, NBA Commissioner David Stern was adamant that expansion under the current economic conditions in the NBA was not going to happen. The NBA tried to expand their way out of the Charlotte/New Orleans relocation and is now dealing with two teams losing money instead of one.
Herein lies the dilemma of process.
The Board of Governors can’t vote Sacramento. They can strongly recommend the Maloof’s change their minds and sell to Sacramento, but the Maloof’s can’t be forced to sell to a Sacramento group, all the Board can do is say No to Seattle and then force the Maloof’s either keep the team or go to Option B, but they would need some pretty real cause.
We Want to Know:
Proving his Worth: When Kyle O’Quinn was drafted into the NBA with the 49th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft it was an improbable rise. O’Quinn was an accomplished basketball player his senior year in high school and earned a scholarship to Norfolk State; he was hardly a player NBA scouts coveted, let alone scouted. It wasn’t until Norfolk State went on to upset Missouri in the 2012 NCAA Tournament that NBA teams got a real feel for what O’Quinn could be. A strong Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and some decent NBA workouts landed him in the NBA and with the Magic in the second round of the draft..
As O’Quinn brings his rookie year to a close he reflected with HOPSWORLD on the journey he had as a rookie and what he plans to work on this offseason.
Where To Spend The Top Pick: The most popular question I get asked this time of year is “Who is going No. 1?” in reference to the 2013 NBA Draft. While most are expecting me to name a can’t miss prospect worthy of the top pick, the truth of the matter is there just isn’t that guy in the projected 2013 NBA Draft class. The top overall pick is likely going to be determined by which team gets the top spot.
So let’s look at the mathematical front runners:
Charlotte Bobcats (18-5) – 250 Lottery Possibilities – 25% chance
The Bobcats have an interesting dilemma in this draft, they have a pretty solid two guard in Gerald Henderson who is arguably better as a player and a future talent than any two-guard in the draft class. Henderson is headed into free agency, so it’s going to be time for Charlotte to pay him, so do they opt for the cheaper lottery talent of a Ben McLemore and take a step backwards? They could go with Nerlens Noel, but they have a lottery pick invested in Bismack Biyombo. Can Charlotte afford to wait out Noel’s ACL and risk botching two draft picks? Marcus Smart could be appealing, but is he really a point guard and with the way Kemba Walker is maturing isn’t he the better player now and tomorrow? The Bobcats’ biggest need would be a power forward, the best forward on the board is arguably Anthony Bennett, but would they possibly take Bennett #1 overall? Charlotte has a dilemma if they land the top pick, because no one on the board worthy of the top pick helps them.
Prediction: Trade Down or draft Nerlens Noel and pray he’s a star next season.
Orlando Magic (19-57) – 199 Lottery Possibilities: 19.9% chance
Magic fans are going to pine away for McLemore, but the truth of the matter is if Orlando lands the top pick there is only one option and that’s Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel. The Magic have the luxury of waiting for Nerlens because they have Nikola Vucevic contributing in a big way. They can let Nerlens rehab, develop and see what they have. If he emerges as an elite level big, they can trade Vucevic, if he does show the promise they can cash him out in trade as well or put him behind Vucevic as a defensive specialist. The Magic’s big need is point guard, but drafting Smart #1 overall would be a terrible decision and while Magic fans might want McLemore, he doesn’t have the same upside that Noel has even with an ACL injury. The name of the game in Orlando is collect as many upside assets as possible and Noel is exactly that.
Prediction: Draft Nerlens Noel.
Cleveland Cavaliers (22-52) 138 Lottery Possibilities: 13.8% chance:
The Cavaliers are set at the point and the two, so cross Ben McLemore and Marcus Smart off the list. The Cavs invested a high level pick in Tristan Thompson and he is starting to pay dividends, so they likely don’t consider a four man. The Cavs have veteran Anderson Varejao and rookie Tyler Zeller from the draft last year holding down the center spot. So it’s either small forward or best talent available.
At small forward it’s either Georgetown’s Otto Porter or UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad – neither are worthy of the top pick.
Best talent is Noel.
So here is the case, if the Cavs draft Nerlens, they too can wait out his ACL rehab as they have guys that can play in front of him. Varejao is an eventual trade chip as a pending free agent in 2014 and Zeller gets more time next year to prove his worth. If Noel emerges as the elite defensive player he’s projected to be he fits in nicely with Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving because he doesn’t need the ball offensively.
Prediction: Draft Nerlens Noel.
Phoenix Suns (22-52) 137 Lottery Possibilities: 13.7% chance:
The Phoenix Suns’ biggest need might be the two guard spot. The Suns landing the top pick opens the door for McLemore going number one overall. He has a relationship with the Morris Twins. He would thrive off of Kendall Marshall and Goran Dragic and the Suns have a capable center in Marcin Gortat.
The massive potential of Noel would be hard to pass for Phoenix, who may trade Gortat this summer, so it’s not out of the question they too take the leap, but the smart money says if the Suns land the top pick, McLemore becomes a real possibility because of well he fits what they have already in place.
Prediction: Draft Ben McLemore.
The 2013 NBA Draft Lottery is May 21, that’s when the final order of the draft will get locked in.
Historically the team with the worst record has not gotten the top overall pick. 2004 was the last time the team with the worst record got the top pick (Orlando), since then the top pick has landed all over the board, which is exactly what the lottery was designed to do.
The 2013 NBA Draft will be held on June 27.
The weekly HOOPSWORLD Pick’em game is still wide open. There is currently just one player in line for the grand prize of an iPad or Apple Store Gift card with just four weekly wins. Two strong weeks and you could be in the running. The game is completely free to play and takes a couple of seconds to sign up for. We give you roughly 12 weekend NBA games, and you simply pick who you think will win. Get the most correct games and you’ll win an adidas HOOPSWORLD T-Shirt. Win the most weeks and you could win an iPad or Apple Store gift card. Week 23 is ready for your picks. Log in and play here.
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