NBA AM: The Kings, Seattle and Anaheim
The Kings, Seattle and Anaheim: The Sacramento Kings will play out the 2012-13 NBA season in Sacramento. Where the Kings will play in 2013-14 still remains very much up in the air. The team and the city of Sacramento have effectively ended talks on a new arena in Sacramento and the tensions and distrust between the two sides makes it improbable that a deal is ever going to be reached.
The Maloof family, owners of the Kings, say they want to make Sacramento work, likely because they know that moving to Anaheim, as they tried to do in March of 2011, is now so far out of reach that they have few other choices.
The appeal of Anaheim was easy. It was Southern California. It was Orange County, one of the wealthiest counties in America. The wrinkle that likely kills the deal is the Los Angeles Lakers’ new multi-billion deal TV deal with Time Warner. If a third NBA team comes into the marketplace, the value of that deal goes down radically to the tune of a couple hundred million over the life of the deal.
It would be cheaper for the Lakers to buy the Kings and dismantle them, rather than allow them to move to Anaheim and that’s overlooking that the Honda Center is a 19-year-old building. The window for Anaheim has closed, unless the Kings want to buy off the Lakers, the Clippers and the NBA and that won’t come cheap.
So what’s next for the Kings? They clearly have to wait out some processes, namely what’s going on in Seattle.
Valiant Capital president Chris Hansen is trying to build a world-class arena in Seattle with the hopes of luring a NBA team there. Read that to mean the Kings because they are the only NBA team not locked into a multi-year, hundred-plus million dollar lease agreement.
The Hawks could leave Atlanta, but it would cost more than $150 million to secure a lease exit. The Memphis Grizzlies have a similar clause worth more than $136 million, but they have a possible new owner who says he wants to stay in Memphis. The New Orleans Hornets just inked a new deal in NOLA, so they are off the table too. So it again comes back to the Kings.
Hansen’s group is battling the political process but is willing to put up $200-plus million in private funding if the city and state will pony up the rest and there seems to be real interest. A deal is still a long way off, but there is optimism.
The new NBA collective bargaining agreement and a new revenue sharing program coming next season will help the Maloof’s stay afloat, but it’s fairly obvious that unless the team is sold – which there are local investors willing to buy the team – the Kings will be relocating at some point in the not so distant future.
It’s clearly not going to be Anaheim for a laundry list of financial reasons.
Seattle seems likely if Hansen can deliver a building.
All of the other options like Kansas City, Louisville, Las Vegas and St. Louis become viable if the economy swings upwards in a serious way, mainly because the NBA is not going to approve a move to a smaller market with teams struggling to sell products, unless one of those markets offers a monster TV package.
So for now, the Kings are staying in Sacramento and the Maloof’s are blowing kisses at their fans and talking about renovations to the former Arco Arena, now Power Balance Pavilion, mainly because the realistic relocation options are slim.
Keep your eye on Seattle, because if Hansen and his group can land a deal for a new building, the Kings won’t be far behind unless they get sold, which is a story for another day.
The Cultural Revolution: If you sit down and talk with the Oklahoma City Thunder, especially GM Sam Presti, you’ll start to get a sense that they look at the world in a slightly different way. It’s not about individual accomplishment or accolades, it’s always about the team’s core values. It’s an ever present statement, it’s a recurring theme and like they say – all roads lead to Rome. All decisions in OKC lead back to their core beliefs as an organization and their plan, which is built around a process and a culture.
That’s a little different in sports. It’s almost like a military concept or a religion. It’s about culture. It’s about process. It’s about values.
When you look in on the Orlando Magic, who officially hired Jacque Vaughn as their head coach yesterday, this is what new GM Rob Hennigan is trying to install in Orlando.
When you question why the Magic haven’t triggered this trade or that trade, you have to consider what the Magic are trying to do and that’s establish a culture and everyone brought into the organization has to be a part of that in an almost seamless way.
It’s utopian for sure. It’s maybe a little more philosophical than sports fans are ready for, but it’s working for the Thunder and it’s what’s worked for the San Antonio Spurs for more than a decade.
The Magic considered the re-tread guys. They considered doing things as they have always been done, but in hiring Hennigan and now Vaughn, it’s absolutely clear that the Magic are trying to copy the Thunder model, which means you have to embrace a few ideas when you look in on what the Magic are doing.
The Magic have defined some core concepts. They want guys who want to be there. They want guys who want to sacrifice a little of themselves for the greater good. They want guys who want to work hard to improve their craft.
The Magic are not going to be about individuality. It’s not going to be about one guy and what one guy wants or needs. It will be about the collective. It will be about what’s best for the organization and who fits in as a proper fitting piece to the puzzle.
If you apply that logic to the draft, the Magic absolutely drafted those kinds of players. If you apply that logic to some of the free agent decisions: Jameer Nelson fits that cultural statement, so does retaining J.J. Redick. Paying $9 million a year for Ryan Anderson does not.
The Magic are trying to establish an ideology for their team going forward, and while it’s certainly interesting in terms of its application to sports, it’s not easy to convince everyone involved to go Eastern philosophy – but it has worked in Oklahoma City and it’s worked in San Antonio.
It will be interesting to see if Hennigan can get everyone in Orlando to stay the course on this plan; the hiring of Vaughn says he’s got some leeway to make this work. Time will tell if they have the same kinds of success that the Spurs and Thunder have had.
Jodie Still Waiting: Jodie Meeks is an unrestricted free agent and while he’d have loved to have stayed in Philadelphia, they opted to go another direction.
Meeks has been talking with a number of teams; however there are three that have risen to the top of the process and Meeks believes he’ll make a decision in the coming days.
“I loved playing in Philadelphia,” Meeks said to HOOPWORLD’s Alex Kennedy. “It was a great city and I was there for two and a half years. I have nothing but great things to say about those guys. They gave me an opportunity to play and I wish them the best of luck.”
Meeks has earned just $2.2 million in his three years in the NBA, so he still has not gotten that significant NBA payday, but based on the teams that have been calling a new multi-year deal could be close.
“I’ve gotten interest from the Lakers, Bucks and Wizards,” Meeks revealed. “There are five or six teams, but those three are at the forefront right now because I’ve been talking to them the most. I really like those teams and I like what they bring to the table. I’m looking forward to signing, whenever that may be.”
The Lakers roster is loaded with guys, and the team has expressed a reluctance to doll out more contract dollars. There is always the chance for a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, which is what sources close to the situation say would be needed to secure Meeks. The Lakers still have their Mini Mid-Level exception worth $3.09 million and a Traded Player Exception worth $1.42 million.
The Wizards still have about $2.5 million to spend under the salary cap, while the Bucks have roughly $4.35 million remaining on their Mid-Level exception.
“I’m just trying to find the best fit for myself,” Meeks said. “I just have to be patient. I know that when it comes time to sign, I’ll be ready to help the team that picks me up. I’m staying in shape and keeping myself busy this summer. I’m keeping a winning attitude. I’m very upbeat and positive. I don’t worry about these kinds of things. I’m just letting it play out and I’m looking forward to next season.”
Meeks is one of the best shooting options left in free agency and it seems like he’ll be making a decision fairly soon.
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