Kings' future far from locked in Sacramento

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Kings' future far from locked in Sacramento

The Sacramento Kings may have avoided the bullet for now, but if folks think this is absolutely the sure beginning of peace and stability for the plucky little team that can't sit still, well, you may want to give it another think.

Monday's announcement, designed mostly to make sure that Mayor Kevin Johnson got the credit and NBA commissioner David Stern got to be the dean of students, also had the additional component of perhaps beginning the slow process of selling the team by the Maloofs, Gavin and Joe, and George, even though they have consistently maintained they are not interested in selling the team.

Their financial setbacks are well known, the direness of their straits well documented.

NEWS: Deal in place to keep Kings in Sacramento

Even after cobbling out this deal, their position as owners of the basketball team may be no less tenuous than before. In fact, it might even be said that this may have hastened their departure rather than slowed it.

The Maloofs haven't been bad owners. When they were flush, they spent on the team. They are no longer, and their attempt to move to Anaheim last year, while seeming a slap in the face of their current fan base, would not have changed their generally parlous financial state.

In short, they own a team without the throw-weight to put behind it, and even a belated discovery of good intentions isn't the same as stability.

So the Kings may end up being for sale, perhaps sooner rather than later -- and that means that this shiny new arena hard by downtown Sactown has value if and only if the lease with the Kings is not only for a long time, but is ironclad and cannot be broken without the city being made financially whole, and then some.

The lesson of Seattle should be the lesson of Sacramento. Seattle made a run at the Kings because it lost the SuperSonics, because the team's owner, Howard Schultz, sold to a guy named Clay Bennett who lives in Oklahoma, and because there was wiggle room in the Key Arena situation,

Bennett could pick up the team and move it to Oklahoma City, which he did. Thus, Johnson's smile must be short-lived, because he is going to have to be hands-on with the sale of the team. Not because it's his team, but because if he isn't even more diligent than he has been, it might not be.

If they do decide to sell, the Maloofs are going to want sell to the highest bidder, and the league will approve it because the league is run by other owners who will want to do the same thing when their times come. That highest bidder could be like Bennett -- unmarried to the city where the team currently resides -- and without a lease and an agreement that is unlawyerable, the Kings might leave anyway.

That's the thing about building a place that relies on an irreplaceable tenant. The tenant ends up with the leverage, and the allegiance follows the leverage. In other words, the team owner can try to leave through any loophole the lease doesn't cover, and team owners usually have David Stern's allegiance, not mayors.

Thus, the issue for Kevin Johnson isn't over, even if the city council signs off on the arena plan that is supposed to keep the Kings. It is just starting, and that means his legal people need to be better than the legal people the unknown potential owner has. After all, nothing is over until the fine print says it's over.

And even then, you're never completely sure.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Report: Kings forward Matt Barnes accused of choking woman

Report: Kings forward Matt Barnes accused of choking woman

Trouble in New York. Not only did the Sacramento Kings drop a game to the Knicks Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden, but they found a way to land on TMZ as part of their postgame activities.

A report surfaced Monday morning that the NYPD was looking to question Matt Barnes after nightclub patrons accused him of choking someone. The veteran wing has since been in contact with authorities to give his account of the events.

"Matt is cooperating with NYPD's investigation," Matt Barnes' attorney Matt Spiro said in a statement to CSN California.

Barnes also posted a statement on the report to his Instagram account, writing "There's alaways two sides to a story.. The side the media consistently tries to paint of me.... And what actually happened! Don't believe everything you read."

A photo posted by matt_barnes9 (@matt_barnes9) on

Later Monday after afternoon, the Kings issued the following statement: "We have clear standards of conduct and behavior expected of the entire Kings organization – on and off the court. We are working with all parties involved to gather information in order to take any appropriate next steps."

Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins went out to a New York City nightclub following the game, which by all means is well within their rights. While information is still being gathered, it appears that Barnes got into an altercation after bumping into a woman and Cousins had to come to his aid.

According to TMZ, Barnes claims to be the victim in this incident and has taken pictures of his injuries that he believes support his account of the events.

“Barnes claims the woman reacted by slapping him in the face, hard -- and that’s when all hell broke loose.

Barnes claims the woman’s crew -- which included several men -- jumped in and began to get violent. Barnes was knocked to the ground in the melee and one of the men began to choke him.

We’re told Barnes got physical in an effort to protect himself. Cousins jumped in to defend Barnes.”

Spiro told TMZ, “We do not believe a crime was committed and are hopeful no charges will be pressed.”

The Kings are scheduled to fly to Dallas sometime on Monday where they will face the Mavericks on Wednesday evening.
 

Rewind: Cauley-Stein shows versatility in Kings' comeback attempt

Rewind: Cauley-Stein shows versatility in Kings' comeback attempt

Sometimes your shot won’t fall. The Sacramento Kings tried everything. Their 3-pointers went halfway down before popping out. Mid-range jumpers found the back iron of the rim. Fastbreak layups rolled out. Tip-ins bounced three times before jumping off the rim. 
 
Sacramento shot just 14-of-49 in the first half and 31-for-96 overall for a horrifying 32.3 percent from the field. And they still had a chance to win.
 
“I thought we got good looks all night,” coach Dave Joerger told media following the game.
 
The New York Knicks built a 21-point first half lead, but with 4:51 remaining in the fourth, the Kings trailed by just two. And then the shots stopped falling again for Sacramento.
 
“When you have to come back from that amount down, it takes a lot of energy and I think we ran out of legs,” Joerger added.
 
The Kings shot 7-of-29 from the field (24.1 percent) in the fourth quarter and 1-of-10 from deep as the Knicks clung to the lead. 
 
Carmelo Anthony dropped in six of his 20 down the stretch and Brandon Jennings hit all four of his free throw attempts in the final few minutes as the Knicks survived for the 106-98 win.
 
DeMarcus Cousins had a big night, scoring 36 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, but he shot just 9-of-30 from the field, including 4-for-10 from long range. 
 
While his team was struggling to hit anything in the first half, Cousins completely carried the team. But when the Kings drew near, be it Cousins or one of the other Kings players, they took ill-advised shots looking for the home run instead of methodically running their offense.
 
It’s nearly impossible to win an NBA game when you shoot 32.2 percent, but Sacramento had plenty of opportunities to complete the comeback and squandered them.
 
With the game out of control early, Joerger turned to unconventional lineups in an attempt to mix things up. Willie Cauley-Stein got an extended look in the second half and may have played himself into more time moving forward. 
 
The second-year big finished the game with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 23 minutes of action. He brought energy on the offensive end and played strong defense against the best the Knicks had to offer.
 
“I think his versatility and length to be able to have to step out and play Carmelo or step out and have to play (Kristaps) Porzingis, where maybe that’s not Kosta’s strength as much,” Joerger said. 
 
The former Kentucky star agreed with his coach’s assessment after the game.
 
“I like to play dudes like that anyways,” Cauley-Stein told reporters. “That kind of goes into to my strengths instead of trying to play a five man that’s just bigger than me and outweighs me by 30 or 40 pounds.”
 
Cauley-Stein has played more than 20 minutes in a game just once this season and he’s sat out three of the Kings' 20 contests as a healthy scratch. He came into the night averaging just 4.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game.  
 
“You’ve just got to remember this is my second year and a new coach, so it’s like being in a rookie year all over again,” Cauley-Stein said. “You’ve got to prove yourself to them that you can make plays, that you can knock down shots.”
 
There's no question the Kings can use a defensive-minded hustle player off the bench, but Joerger has often turned to 36-year-old Matt Barnes for those minutes instead of the Kings' first-As theround pick from a season ago.
 
With the loss, Sacramento fell to 1-3 on the road trip and 7-13 on the season. They have a two day break before facing off with the 4-15 Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.