For those of you who are devotees of the hit HBO drama Game of Thrones and are Sacramento Kings fans, your cup runneth over in twists, turns, intrigue, power plays, family infighting, wars of words and battles of city states.
Remember the headlines in January? the Kings were as good as gone from Sacramento, and supporters were hoping a buzzer-beating effort could save their team.
Mayor Kevin Johnson was channeling his inner Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark in using his last second heroics, persuasive powers and ability to leap tall new arena challenges in a single bound. In the battle between Westeross (Sacramento) and Essos (Seattle) he saved the day for NBA basketball fans in the State Capital.
The Kings new ownership group led by Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov are fast breaking to solidify the Kings' future. They have momentum as many ownership groups do right after purchasing an underperforming franchise from an unpopular ownership.
In today's sporting world the honeymoon for new ownership doesn’t last long. The new Kings and their court may be running at full speed, but the reality TV show Wipeout is a cautionary tale as they embark on their marathon of turning around the organization.
NEW DOWNTOWN ARENA
Ownership is facing strict NBA deadlines for building the new downtown venue. The NBA is insisting that the building at Downtown Plaza open no later than 2017. The Ranadive group expects to open a $448 million arena at Downtown Plaza in time for the 2016-17 season. Like all projects of this type in California they will have to privately finance their new home.
NEW BASKETBALL MANAGEMENT TEAM
The new group moved quickly replacing Keith Smart with highly regarded Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone and letting go of long time GM Geoff Petrie and bringing in Denver’s Pete D’Alessandro. Chris Mullin is in discussions to become a special basketball advisor to Ranadive and his partners. They'll need to be careful that this makeover doesn’t end up looking too much like Warriors North. The new coach and GM have never served in those roles before.
Surely the new basketball brain trust will make changes on the court. Moving up the ladder in the Western Conference is a challenge that will test the new ownership's basketball and business savvy. Their most talented player, DeMarcus Cousins, has already tried to leverage new ownership by requesting a max contract or a trade. Tyreke Evans is another King who may end up in a different kingdom while affecting their ability to win.
Northern California is chock full of competition with the Warriors, Giants, A’s, 49ers, Raiders, Sharks along with Cal, Stanford and a multiplicity of active outdoor activities. Expansion of the Kings' kingdom will take some heavy lifting.
Since a majority of the new arena cost will be picked up by ownership they will have to work out a viable financing plan to help them stay afloat after spending half a billion dollars to build the new palace for the Kings.
The peripheral vision of the new Kings' ownership group will be tested to make sure they don’t Wipeout on the early momentum they have created.
NEW OWNERSHIP GROUP
Vivek Ranadive, SF Peninsula & founder of Tibco software heads a group of new Sacramento Kings owners from across the Golden State, including:
Raj Bhathal, Newport Beach, swimwear manufacturer
Mark Friedman, Sacramento, real estate developer
Katrina Garnett, Hillsborough, founder, CrossWorlds Software and My Little Swans
Arjun Gupta, Foster City, venture capitalist with TeleSoft Partners
Paul Jacobs, San Diego, Qualcomm CEO
Chris Kelly, Palo Alto, early Facebook employee
Andy Miller, Menlo Park, Highland Capital
Mark Mastrov, Lafayette, 24 Hour Fitness founder