Sacramento approves arena plan to keep Kings

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Sacramento approves arena plan to keep Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The only place the Sacramento Kings are moving to is a new downtown home in California's capital.A year after almost being wiped off the NBA map, Sacramento cleared the most critical political hurdle late Tuesday night when the City Council approved a plan to help finance an estimated 391 million arena. The non-binding term sheet, signed off by the Kings and the NBA last week, will keep the team in Sacramento for at least another 30 years.Cheers rang out from supporters who cramped the council's chambers when the plan passed by a 7-2 vote and pushed the city's portion of the agreement forward. Binding contracts from all sides, which are expected to be a formality, could be signed as soon as April.
"This is a culmination of a journey that started many, many years ago," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star who spearheaded the project. "I think this community did everything it could to put us in this position for this historic Sacramento moment."Tonights vote was an important next step in the process to construct a new entertainment and sports complex in Sacramento," the Maloof family said in a statement. "On behalf of our entire family and the Kings organization, we want to thank everyone who has helped move this forward, especially the NBA, City Council, Mayor Kevin Johnson, the Think Big Sacramento Committee, and most importantly, our dedicated employees and loyal fans. Were all excited.
Under the agreement, the city will contribute 255.5 million to the project, mostly by leasing out parking garages around the facility. The city is also exploring an option to establish a parking authority instead.The Kings have agreed to pay 73.25 million and arena operator AEG will contribute 58.75 million. The remaining gap will be covered by a ticket surcharge, advertising around the facility, the sale of public lands and a sponsorship campaign to sell bricks and plaques around the complex. Construction is expected to begin in the late spring or early summer next year on the arena, which would open for the 2015-16 season in the downtown rail yards.The meeting packed the council chambers to its capacity of about 500 and residents on both sides clogged downtown with signs, shirts and even songs.
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Kevin JohnsonWe scored one for the home team! Thank you Sacramento! No one thought we would be here but us!
Mar 07 via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply
City Manager John Shirey told the council that the decision would be "one of the toughest votes of your career" and implored members to approve the plan for the economic benefit, job creation and immeasurable notoriety of remaining a major professional sports city, saying "there are only 30 of those (NBA) franchises in all the world and we happen to have one of them.""The status quo is not really an option before you this evening," Shirey said. "If we do nothing, the Kings will likely leave Sacramento."Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof walked into the chamber just before the meeting to a light standing ovation. He was later joined by rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas, who also drew light cheers.A line of residents snaked around City Hall and seemingly every TV truck and radio station in the Central Valley was broadcasting outside. One fan wore Johnson's old Phoenix Suns jersey among the scores of Kings signs and jerseys in the crowd. A group of about 120 supporters of the plan wore white T-shirts with black letters that read "5 Votes.""This is bigger than basketball," said Michael Tavares, one of the leaders of the group called (hash)Fans, which stands for Fund Arena Now Sacramento. "It's about making Sacramento a destination."Opponents and proponents of the plan were allowed to speak for 2 minutes. Each side was granted 45 minutes, and those who couldn't reach the lectern in the allotted time were allowed to stand in acknowledgement of their support afterward.The four-hour plus meeting brought out some animated speakers, including a man who wore a hard hat and sang a song to start construction soon, one young woman who started to cry while arguing other public works such as schools and parks were being ignored, and others who raised their voices and pounded their fists. Most, however, remained civilized.Those against the plan argued it steers public money toward a private company, that sports arenas don't produce enough - or any - economic benefit and that the project is being rushed. Some also asked for the plan to be put to a public vote."This city is on the verge of insolvency. As far as I know, we still technically qualify for bankruptcy under federal law," said Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, who opposed the plan. She added the project "will scoop up every nickel and dime" left in the city's budget.Proponents echoed the mayor and city manager's stances, trumpeting job creation and saying the economic loss if the Kings left would be even worse. In the end, those voices spoke to the majority.The passage of the plan highlighted a turnaround for a town that once seemed assured of losing its only major professional sports team.The Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim last year before Johnson convinced the NBA to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena. At one point, Johnson seemed so certain the team was gone he called the process a "slow death" and compared the city's efforts to keep the Kings a "Hail Mary."Johnson made a desperate pitch to the NBA Board of Governors last April, promising league owners the city would find a way to help finance a new arena to replace the team's current outdated suburban facility. He also bought time by presenting more than 10 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses for this season.The NBA's relocation committee, headed by Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett - who moved the team now known as the Thunder from Seattle in 2008 - recommended that the league give the city a shot to follow through and handed down a March 1 deadline to come up with a plan to help finance an arena. Johnson delivered the agreement last Thursday - on March 1, no less - to send the plan to the City Council."A year ago, this was the longest of long shots," Johnson said. "That's one heck of a comeback."The Associated Press contributed to this report

With gaping holes to fill, 2017 NBA Draft offers Kings several options

With gaping holes to fill, 2017 NBA Draft offers Kings several options

The Sacramento Kings walk into the 2017 offseason with gaping holes in their roster. Free agency will play a role, but before they get to spending their $60-plus million in cap space, Vlade Divac, Scott Perry, Ken Catanella and the rest of the front office will try to fill some of their needs via the draft.

While the first batch of draft prospects rolled through Sacramento late last week, Vlade Divac, along with European scout Predrag Drobnjak spent the weekend in Istanbul, Turkey at the European Championships. Sharpshooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic led Fenerbahçe to its first title, further building the hype around one of Europe’s best young stars.

Divac acquired the rights to Bogdanovic in a draft day trade last summer when the 6-foot-6 Serbian was tossed in along with picks 13 and 28 for the 9th overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. Divac would love to entice the 24-year-old wing to play in the NBA next season.

Even if Bogdanovic buys in, the Kings need more.

Both Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are unrestricted free agents, leaving Langston Galloway as the only point guard on the roster. Rudy Gay has already informed the team that he intends to opt out of his $14.3 million player option for next season, opening a massive need at the small forward position.

The needs are clear. Sacramento has to find a point guard and small forward of the future. They also need a point guard and a small forward of the right now. If a player fits both now and in the future, so be it.

Lady luck shined brightly on the Kings during the draft lottery. A move from No. 8 to No. 3 would have guaranteed a point guard, but a pick swap to No. 5 still has Sacramento in the running to fill one of their biggest voids.

While plenty of mock drafts have a variety of players in the top five of the 2017 NBA Draft, there is a clear group that Sacramento will likely focus on. Barring a major trade, point guard Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington is projected to go with the first overall selection, but then it’s wide open how the next four picks will unfold.

UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is projected to go to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 in most mocks, but nothing is a sure bet. Small forwards Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are top five selections as well, while Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox is an early draft climber.

Sacramento would love nothing more than to see Fox sitting on the board when they select at five. He’s slight of build, but the 6-foot-3 speedster is a high character player with tons of potential. He would step in and instantly compete for a starting job with the Kings’ young core.

There are concerns that Fox won’t make it to five and the Kings have a few options if they want to move up, but the real question is, should they?

If Fox is gone, Sacramento will still have a player on the board at a position of need. Be it Ball, Jackson or Tatum, the talent pool is rich. Finding a floor general is important, but finding a star should be the top priority. All five have potential to become more than just a starter in the league and all five fit one of the team’s two most glaring weaknesses on the current roster.

Drafting either Jackson or Tatum would instantly bump the talent level of the team. Both are considered top tier prospects and for Sacramento, likely starters on Day 1.

Jackson is a catalyst type player and personality that brings energy, as well as a tremendous skill set. He can pass, rebound, play defense at a high level and score above the rim. He’ll be an instant fan favorite wherever he lands.

Tatum has potential as a two-way player, but his offensive game should instantly translate to the NBA level. A polished scorer, Tatum would step in and give the Kings a scoring option to fill the shoes of Gay, who is on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The Top 10 has plenty of other high end prospects. Sacramento could chase a shooting big in Lauri Markkanen. The 7-footer out of Arizona would help to stretch the floor at the four, but their other needs are more obvious.

Fox’s backcourt mate at Kentucky, Malik Monk, is also an intriguing player, but with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple, Malachi Richardson and the potential for Bogdanovic to join the team, the Kings are heavy at the shooting guard spot.

Point guard Dennis Smith has a high ceiling and would likely challenge for top five consideration if it wasn’t for a torn ACL in high school and some questions about his attitude.

If Sacramento selects a small forward with the fifth pick and Smith was still available when they choose again at No. 10, he becomes a lower risk proposition the Kings might have to consider.

Point guard Frank Ntilikina out of France would fit the bill as well in the right situation. If the Kings land Jackson or Tatum at five, they could come back with Ntilikina at 10. He’s young and inexperienced, but he also stands at 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan. His defensive potential at the point is tremendous, but he is a project on the offensive end, not a polished player like the four point guards expected to go ahead of him in the draft.

Combo forward Jonathan Isaac is an appealing prospect, but he’ll need plenty of time to develop and he’s a better target if he somehow slips to 10. Like Smith and Ntilikina, this would be a nice addition if the Kings fill their other need with the fifth overall selection.

Regardless of how they got to No.’s 5 and 10, the Kings are in a good spot. They have options and plenty of players at positions of need and there is potential to land a future star. Once the draft rolls around on June 22, the focus will quickly shift to shoring up the remainder of the squad. With two high picks, the potential addition of Bogdanovic and plenty of cap space, the Kings are primed for a big time roster overhaul this summer.

Joerger: Rebuilding Kings hope to make the playoffs in...

Joerger: Rebuilding Kings hope to make the playoffs in...

The Kings' playoff drought is at 11 years and according to head coach Dave Joerger, it's going to last a few more years.

Speaking on Sirius XM NBA Radio on Tuesday, Joerger was asked about the differences between his coaching gigs with Sacramento and Memphis, and outlined the Kings' timeline for reaching the postseason.

"It's different. It's been a great learning experience for me. It's going to be an interesting process. You know, three years from now we hope to be in the playoffs. And so how do we do that? We were just talking about Memphis and it's the same thing. So if you're management, there's a couple times a year, two or three times that are really hot. Trade deadline, draft, free agency, boom, boom, boom. We're in Memphis sitting there getting 50 wins a year. Okay, maybe the trade deadline came and went, maybe we got a guy, maybe not, not too stressful. Get the 23rd, 24th pick in the draft," Joerger said.

"It's different now. In this situation, it's a higher pick, now free agency has a little bit more focus on it. So how we execute in free agency, how we execute our draft picks and how we execute at the trade deadline as this thing builds, you try to go too fast, you can make mistakes. But I think slow and steady wins the race," Joerger concluded.

So Kings fans can look forward to the 2019-20 season when the team returns to the playoffs.

Joerger is at the helm of a Kings team that is in full rebuild mode. The team traded center DeMarcus Cousins during the All-Star break and turned the team over to several first and second-year players. They posted a 32-50 record during the 2016-17 season, good for a third-place finish in the Pacific Division.

The Kings hold the No. 5, 10 and 34 picks in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft and will add to their stable of young players.