Kings' owners still undecided on team's future

403314.jpg

Kings' owners still undecided on team's future

April 22, 2011
KINGS PAGE KINGS VIDEO
SACRAMENTO (AP) The future of the Sacramento Kings is headed to another overtime.Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said Friday that his family is still deciding whether to move the franchise to Anaheim, and he confirmed that NBA officials will be in Sacramento again next week to further research the city's viability.Maloof told The Associated Press he's "as anxious as anybody" to find out if Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promises for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena. He denied reports the team has already made a decision."There's been no decision made," Maloof said. "As far as we're concerned, we're still looking at our options."The Kings have until May 2 to request permission to relocate, and a majority vote by owners is needed to approve any move. While Johnson has become increasingly optimistic that the team will remain in Sacramento next season, Maloof said the team still wants to know more information about the region's proposals.Part of that started to filter out this week.Johnson ended two days of meetings in Sacramento with NBA relocation committee chairman and Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett and league counsel Harvey Benjamin. Johnson's desperate pitch to league owners a week earlier in New York was enough for NBA Commissioner David Stern to send out the "fact-finding team," and the mayor's proposals when they arrived swayed the league to dispatch more representatives next week.In the end, the Maloofs could still choose to put a vote before owners."I don't know that Kevin Johnson's meeting in New York swayed the NBA one way or another, but I think that the NBA next week is going to go into Sacramento to verify a lot of the promises Kevin Johnson made to the board," Maloof said. "There were various sponsorship promises and a promise to show the board, once and for all, how a new arena not only will be planned, but financed."For a league that usually rubber-stamps relocation requests, Sacramento certainly seems to have done all it can to fight back.Johnson presented more than 9.2 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses and other backers. He said that would help the Kings next season and allow the city more time to complete a plan to build - and finance - a new arena, which the cash-strapped city has refused to contribute public dollars toward for years.Once the meetings were finished, Johnson even rode with Bennett to the airport and said the league's relocation committee chairman - who moved the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City three years ago - was impressed with Sacramento's latest presentation."They just said to us we delivered on what we were supposed to do," Johnson said, adding that he hasn't heard from the NBA or the Maloofs on a final decision. "It's not a done deal yet. I've heard a lot of rumors. But I don't think we're at a point by any means that we can declare victory."The league has no plans to send a similar investigative team to Anaheim.NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed officials will be back in Sacramento next week to continue studying Sacramento's proposals. The league offered no further comment on the meetings other than to say: "Clay Bennett had informative meetings with the mayor, elected officials and business leaders and will be reporting back to the Relocation Committee next week."Sacramento rolled out a purple carpet for the NBA while they could.The business community encouraged fans with all kinds of specials for patrons wearing purple. Everything from margaritas and sangrias to ice cream and popcorn were dyed purple and there were a slew of signs downtown and around the state Capitol asking the NBA for support."Stand up for Our Town. Our Fans. Our City," one poster read.It was hard to walk anywhere around Sacramento and not see Kings colors the past two days. A few dozen Sacramento supporters even rallied with signs outside NBA headquarters in New York, part of social-networking effort that took shape with even those no longer in Sacramento."I'm wearing purple cause we (are) trying to keep the Kings in Sacramento!" former Kings star and TNT analyst Chris Webber wrote on his Twitter page.There's also an effort led by a Sacramento political consultant to thwart a 75 million financing plan that Anaheim's City Council approved to lure the Kings to the Honda Center. In a letter to Benjamin, Sacramento political strategist Rob Stutzman said he will turn in more than 11,000 signatures to Anaheim officials Monday that supports a referendum to reverse the financing package, possibly forcing a public vote that wouldn't take place until June 2012.The Maloofs maintain they have no issue with the efforts by Johnson or Sacramento. They also don't believe their relationship in Sacramento is strained to the point they couldn't return."I think the Sacramento fans appreciate the Maloof efforts over the past several years," Maloof said. "We've spent several million dollars and hundreds of man hours in trying to find a solution for a new arena in Sacramento. It's not like we were there one, two, three, or even four years."We've tried and tried again, in conjunction with city leaders and politicians and city leaders. I think the fans will definitely welcome us back because we've been fair. The question I always ask fans is, 'What would you do?' We've been honest."

Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

SANTA CLARA – Leading up to Stanford’s bowl game, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas was mostly an under-the-radar draft prospect.

John Lynch had known all about him for a few years. He even called some NFL teams to give them a heads-up to watch No. 90 -- long before he was hired to run the 49ers' personnel department.

After trading back one spot with the Chicago Bears, Lynch made Thomas his first selection as 49ers general manager. The 49ers drafted Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick.

“I want to make it the best draft pick he has,” Thomas said on Thursday.

Thomas first met Lynch during his freshman year at Stanford. Lynch returned to Stanford to finish his degree. They took a class together: Management Science and Engineering.

According to MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, they even collaborated on a project of whether the NFL’s Washington team should change its mascot name.

“I remember I was star-stuck the first day of class,” Thomas said.

Thomas said they did not talk much in the following years, but Thomas reached out to Lynch for advice before Stanford’s game against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.

Said Thomas, “In the pre-draft process before the North Carolina game, he told me: ‘Don’t worry about the external stuff going on. Worry about yourself and your team. The best thing you can do is have the best bowl game possible and show you’re unstoppable and unblockable.”

That is exactly what Thomas did in Stanford’s 25-23 victory over Mitchell Trubisky’s team. Thomas recorded seven tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, and a sack.

A month later, Lynch was hired as 49ers general manager and Thomas first began to think about the possibility of being drafted by his former classmate.

“I thought it was definitely a possibility,” Thomas said. “People really hadn’t watched my film yet, so I didn’t know if I’d go that high.”

Thomas was routinely matched with the 49ers in mock drafts in the weeks leading up to Thursday’s first round. The 49ers swapped their second pick with the Chicago Bears, who moved up to select Trubisky.

All along, Thomas said he wanted the 49ers to draft him.

“In my head I thought, ‘I love that, but I can’t ride the rollercoaster and believe that stuff or I’m going to get my heart broken.’ I kept my mind open and came in blind and tried to be happy for any team to draft me,” Thomas said. “But the best team for me drafted me and the best team I wanted to draft me drafted me.

“I love John Lynch. I love the way he played the mentality that he’s going to bring to the team. Coach (Kyle) Shanahan seems like an amazing man and an amazing coach.”

49ers select DE Solomon Thomas with No. 3 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select DE Solomon Thomas with No. 3 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

SOLOMON THOMAS
Position: Defensive line
College: Stanford
Height: 6-2 ½
Weight: 273 pounds
Selection: First round, No. 3 overall

SANTA CLARA – After some late intrigue surrounding the No. 1 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns went with the player universally considered the top NFL prospect.

Myles Garrett went with the first selection, then the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears, who chose North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

The 49ers still got the player they would have chosen with the No. 2 overall pick: Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with the second pick.

General manager John Lynch engineered a trade that enabled the 49ers to pick up third and fourth-round draft picks this year, as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year to move back one spot.

With the selection of Thomas, the 49ers have now chosen defensive linemen with their first picks in each of the past three drafts.

The 49ers picked Arik Armstead with the No. 17 pick in 2015. Last year, in Trent Baalke’s final draft as general manager, the 49ers chose DeForest Buckner with the No. 7 pick.

Thomas becomes the highest-drafted defensive player from Stanford in school history. The Minnesota Vikings selected Stanford linebacker Jeff Siemon No. 10 overall in 1972.

The 49ers finished with a 2-14 record last season in Chip Kelly’s only season to land in the No. 2 draft slot. CEO Jed York fired Kelly and Baalke at the conclusion of the season.

Lynch had been shopping the No. 2 overall pick in trade scenarios in recent weeks. The 49ers accomplished their goal, trading back one spot and getting a bounty of picks to help in the rebuilding project.

The 49ers chose Thomas over such players as running back Leonard Fournette, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and safety Jamal Adams.

Thomas, who spent five years in Australia as a youngster, came to Stanford as a top 25 national recruit. In his final college season, Thomas led the Cardinal with 62 tackles, 15 for loss, and eight quarterback sacks. He was an All-American and chosen as the winner of the Morris Trophy, awarded to the Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year.

Thomas appears to be a fit at multiple positions along the line in new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. While he might be best-suited for an interior position, new coach Kyle Shanahan said recently at Stanford’s pro day that he believes Thomas can play the team’s pass-rush position.

The 49ers have struggled to generate much of a pass rush since the departure of Aldon Smith, whom the club released prior to the 2015 season after multiple off-field incidents.

Ahmad Brooks and Buckner tied for the team-lead last season with six sacks. Brooks and Aaron Lynch led the 49ers in 2015 with 6.5 sacks apiece. Brooks and Lynch both recorded six sacks in ’14 to lead the team.

The 49ers have nine draft picks remaining. Their next scheduled pick comes Friday with the second selection of the second round, No. 34 overall.