Kings

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

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

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AP

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

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AP

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.