NBA AM: Saving The Sacramento Kings
At one point earlier this year it seemed imminent that Sacramento Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof were going to relocate the franchise before the start of the 2012 campaign.
The Maloof’s were in serious discussions with Anaheim officials on relocation plans and exit strategies before announcing their intent to keep the Kings in Sacramento for one more season.
The heart of the issue revolves around the Maloof brothers repeated failed attempts to secure support for a new arena for the club and the current relocation delay should only be viewed as a short term measure aimed to help Sacramento officials garner support for a new facility.
At the forefront leading the charge to save the Kings is Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a three-time NBA All-Star point guard, who has earned praise from the Maloof’s and commissioner David Stern for his efforts on the frontlines of the initiative.
“We spent 13 years and millions of dollars to try to get an arena built,” Joe Maloof said earlier this year when announcing the Kings would remain in Sacramento for the 2012 season. “We don’t have the answer. The mayor has the answers and we’re willing and able to listen. He’s got to have a plan. We never want to be untruthful to the fans of Sacramento. There is a sense of urgency, and that’s up to Mayor Johnson and his political team.”
Despite the ongoing lockout which has brought business throughout the league to a screeching halt, Johnson has been working feverishly to gain support from community leaders for a new arena. It’s also apparent Johnson completely understands the fragile predicament the city remains in trying to keep the Kings long-term and the threat Anaheim still plays in the process.
“All this did was buy us one year,” Johnson told USA Today’s J. Michael Falgoust on the Maloof’s decision to postpone the relocation for a year. “What we have to accomplish before March is we need to have a critical path on where we’re going to finance a new entertainment sports complex. If we do that, Sacramento will be the final resting place for the Sacramento Kings. If we don’t do that, then if I’m the Kings and the NBA, I’m going to say Anaheim is still in play.
From the start of the negotiations Johnson has routinely presented three scenarios to league executives which all revolve around basketball remaining in Sacramento in some way, shape or form.
“I’m going to fight for my city, and any of these three scenarios would allow Sacramento to be an NBA city,” Johnson added. “Same team, same owners: That was our preferred option but we couldn’t control that. Same team, new owners: Meaning, if the Kings decided to sell, then I had someone to buy the team and keep them in Sacramento. New team, new owners: Meaning, if the team left for Anaheim, that we had a new owner who would try buy another team and bring them to Sacramento. My choice, the optimal outcome, was to keep the Kings and the owners in Sacramento.”
After eight consecutive postseason appearances from 1999-2006, the Kings have compiled a woeful 137-293 (32 percent win rate) record, however when the team was performing at a high level there was no shortage of fan support surrounding the franchise.
Johnson is optimistic a new arena can be opened by 2015 at the latest and states there is already a team working on the blueprints
“We think the worst-case scenario is 2015,” Johnson said on the timeline of opening a new arena. “If we can get the financing of all this stuff lined up as we think we can, before 2012, we’ve already got a design team, architects and contractors starting to work on real numbers, starting to think about schematics and renderings and all that.”
While the prospect of keeping the Kings in Sacramento is still far from a sure thing, the city has been fortunate to be led by a former NBA player willing to put in the necessary legwork to give them the best opportunity possible.
“It’s made a big deal,” Johnson responded to whether being a former player has helped. “We all would probably say it’s a competitive advantage we had. I had a unique understanding of the critical role sports plays in a community. I saw first-hand the power of sports in Phoenix [with the Suns]. I saw a building being built downtown that revitalized a ghost town in Phoenix. I had the honor of traveling and seeing 29 other cities and seeing sports and jobs and civic and community pride and economic development, quality of life, arts and culture, the interplay of all those. That gave me a huge advantage. No mayor thinks he’ll be in position to save their team. I looked at this as a tremendous opportunity rather than a challenge.”
Jared Dudley Eyeing Starting Lineup: The Charlotte Bobcats selected Jared Dudley with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2007 draft and after just 93 games with the franchise he was dealt to the Phoenix Suns.
Typically when a team struggling to get out of the basement deals a young player after a short period of time the writing is usually on the wall about that player’s long term viability in the league.
But a funny thing happened for Dudley.
After struggling to secure consistent minutes for a mediocre Bobcats team, Dudley has emerged as a consistent contributor for the Suns who are always in the hunt for a postseason berth.
Now entering his fifth season Dudley has a bigger goal in mind whenever the current labor dispute ends and training camp opens.
“My mind-set is to come in and compete to start unless they bring in an All-Star player,” Dudley told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
As it stands today the Suns have a logjam on the wing with Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress and Mickael Pietrus also vying for minutes at small forward. If the team decides to re-sign veteran Grant Hill playing time will get even tighter at the position.
Dudley has been honing his game at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas this summer and preparing for this month’s series of games which includes Al Harrington, Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry and Zach Randolph amongst others.
“It’s something for guys to work out and improve their games,” Dudley said of the upcoming series. “Usually, you go back to your teams in September, lift and play. We already have 30-40 players here working out. You train all day and then we open it to the public for games. It’ll be like summer league. You’ll have by far the most pros here of any league.”
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