I've been dealing with some family business in Minnesota this week, so I took a break from both the Association and the blog to focus on that. Then, I fully realized the stress of family business, so I returned to the Association and the blog to get a break from the family. Now I'm just confused about what I'm taking a break from. And what I'm working on, for that matter.
Let's just do this. Up this week: shifty millionaires in Sacto, troubling rumors in Charlotte, and the potential dunk of the year. Let's get to it.
1. Royal Headache.
A number of troubling reports have come out of Sacramento in recent days regarding the brand new arena the Kings and the City of Sacramento agreed build by the start of the 2015 NBA season. The Kings do not seem to be out of the storm of relocation quite yet.
Apparently, the Maloof family, the owners of the Kings, do not want to pay $3.25 million in pre-development costs for the construction of the new arena. They also are reluctant to pay an additional $3.25 million on behalf of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) should the deal fall through. The Kings do not feel they are obligated to pay the money, and George Maloof indicates that they've always been up front about this, both to Mayor Kevin Johnson and the NBA. Johnson and the City disagree, and in a statement to the Sacramento Bee, Mayor Johnson says that "the success of the new entertainment and sports complex depends on complete trust and partnership among all parties. It was with that spirit that we all agreed to a deal in Orlando, including the Maloff family, who looked an entire room in the eye and promised their commitment to Sacramento." The NBA paid the pre-development costs on behalf of the Maloofs, and expect to be repaid once the issue is settled. However, the Maloofs see the March 6 non-binding agreement for exactly what it is: a non-binding agreement. They do not feel they are required to honor anything presented in the agreement, though the agreement itself seems to clearly state that the Kings were on the hook for the first $3.25 million.
Simply put: this isn't too good. It seems that most of the good vibes that came from the agreement have dissipated, and the Maloofs early reluctance to pay costs that were pretty clearly spelled out in the original document doesn't bode well for the future. This $3.5 million is only the fraction of the $75.6 million that the Kings are supposed to pay. Given that they seem unwilling to sacrifice even that amount indicates that they will be difficult partners as negotiations between them, the NBA, AEG and the City of Sacramento. The Maloofs have stated that they need the arena to be up and running by 2015 in order for them to Kings in Sacramento. This looks like it will be a tall cast.
When I wrote the Seattle Sonics Optimism Guide, I listed Seattle fan's optimism level for the Sacramento Kings to become the new Sonics as a "1", because even though something's agreed upon, anything's possible, especially when it comes to relocation in the NBA. I may need to revise that.
And while we're on the subject of of troubled franchises...
2. Speak of the Devil?
Earlier this week, I wrote a long thought piece about the Charlotte Bobcats. I baselessly mused that owner Michael Jordan wasn't in it for the long haul -- I have no "sources" to give me insider information -- given his increasingly absent behavior. And, this week, some leaked information lent some credence to my baseless assertions.
On Friday, reports came out in New York's Daily News that Jordan was beginning a three season "win or bust" operation in Charlotte. According to the Post's Mitch Lawrence, Jordan has let team president Rod Higgins and general manager Rich Cho know that unless the team produces a winner in three seasons, or at the least, turns a profit, he will put the franchise on the market. Jordan is reportedly tired of losing millions, and doesn't want to commit money to a roster filled with role players and draft busts. On Sunday, Jordan vehemently denied this report, saying that he was "100% committed to building the Bobcats into a contender" and that he "has no plans on selling the team."
Okay. Sounds good. Except for the fact that Jordan has instructed Higgins and Cho to rebuild the team using the Oklahoma City model, which required (1) three successive lottery picks, (2) Portland's lamentable selection of Greg Oden, (3) the presence of players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden at the top of the draft, and (4) a bevy of draft picks to use in various transactions. At present time, the Bobcats have the best chance to get Anthony Davis this year, but that's just one piece. At present time there are no players that seem feasible to rebuild around, except perhaps Kemba Walker as a lesser piece. When the Thunder began their rebuilding operation in 2008, they went from 23 wins to 50 in a city giddy to have a team. The city of Charlotte already got rid of one team, and were awarded another for no good reason.
I just really don't see this working out long term. If Jordan sells, I can't imagine anyone local will buy. I wonder if this is the beginning of the end. As a Seattle transplant, I sort of hope it is.
3. Blue Russell a la Turk
Yet another Dunk of the Year candidate, this time from the Bulls-Thunder matchup this Sunday.. Russell Westbrook over Omer Asik. Definitely poster worthy.
Mike Breen thought it was Dunk of the Year material. Eh. I'm not sure if it reaches one full Mozgov. Pretty nice dunk though. And a nice win for the Thunder.