Sac's effort to keep Kings headed for overtime

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Sac's effort to keep Kings headed for overtime

Sacramento's last shot to remain an NBA city appears headed for another overtime.

NBA Commissioner David Stern and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Wednesday they have agreed to a "work plan" in hopes of reaching a deal to finance a new arena by the March 1 deadline. Johnson, Stern and the Maloof family, which owns the Sacramento Kings, will meet during this weekend's All-Star festivities in Orlando, Fla.

If a plan can been hammered out in time, a term sheet will be announced March 1 and the Sacramento City Council will vote on the plan at its March 6 meeting, possibly avoiding the relocation talk that surrounded the team last year when it almost moved to Anaheim.

"Sacramento stands ready to meet the March 1 deadline," Johnson said in a statement. "Our approach makes good on the principles that have guided us throughout this process: protecting the taxpayers, creating jobs, and pursuing an open and transparent process."

The major sticking point in negotiations remains how much the Kings will contribute.

Under the proposed agreement, the city of Sacramento will raise about 190-230 million by leasing out parking garages to private investors, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information, said another 75-100 million is expected from the Kings and 40-60 million from arena operator AEG.

The remaining gap will be covered by some combination of a ticket surcharge, advertising around the arena, allocating a portion of the city's existing transient occupancy tax or a sale of three or four parcels of city land.

The final price tag for AEG depends largely on the team's contribution.

The Kings' portion would include upfront cash - the city had initially asked for 60 million - and donating back the land around the franchise's current suburban Sacramento arena, estimated at about 25 million. AEG's contribution will be impacted by the splits with the team in arena-related revenue.

The two sides are making progress and hope to bridge the gap to finance the estimated 406 million arena, which would open for the 2015-16 season in the downtown Sacramento rail yards. The Kings nearly moved south to Anaheim last year, twice extending the relocation deadline and struggling to gain approval from league owners.

Johnson made a desperate pitch to the NBA Board of Governors last April to give the city a final chance to come up with an arena plan. 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.

Despite attempts by Anaheim and Seattle to swoop in and lure the Kings, Stern said the league is making every attempt to keep the franchise in California's capital.

"We appreciate the work of the City of Sacramento and (our) discussions have been constructive," Stern said in a statement. "Our hope is that current momentum continues in a way that we're able to reach a deal by March 1 that makes sense for all parties."

Word of the extended arena talks also reached the Kings before the team's game at the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

"It's good for the team and the city, the positive news of today," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "But for the basketball players, their focus is on the game."

Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof haven't been involved in negotiations. The league is bargaining with Sacramento officials on the franchise's behalf and will present the final proposal to the team.

Joel Litvin, president of league operations, and Harvey Benjamin, executive counsel for business and finance, are the NBA's lead negotiators. Stern also has been receiving updates.

The NBA could force the Maloofs into bringing in investment partners or - as a last resort - even sell the team if the owners walk away from a plan that has the league's approval.

Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle remains interested in buying the Kings. And Christopher Hansen, a hedge-fund manager based in San Francisco and a Seattle native, is also making proposals to bring an NBA team to Seattle - with eyes on the Kings if Sacramento's latest plan collapses.

The Maloofs insist they're not selling the team. A Kings spokesman said the team is refraining from comment until the NBA and the city complete a proposed plan.

NBA Gameday: For Kings, life without Cousins begins against Nuggets

NBA Gameday: For Kings, life without Cousins begins against Nuggets

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings begin the post All-Star break trailing the Denver Nuggets by just a game and a half for the eight seed in the Western Conference playoff race. But the game almost seems secondary to the drama surrounding the blockbuster trade that sent All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans over the weekend.

With 25 games remaining, Dave Joerger has to figure out a way to balance his rotation, which now includes three new faces in Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and Tyreke Evans. In addition to Cousins, Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi are also gone as the Kings hit the reboot button on a once promising season. 

Sacramento shopped other veteran players up until the end of Thursday's NBA trade deadline, but they chose to stand pat for the remainder of the season with their current group of 15.

Denver is clinging to a lead in the race for eight, but Sacramento, Portland, New Orleans, Dallas and Minnesota are all within four and a half games. Nikola Jokic has played extremely well in his second NBA season, giving Michael Malone a centerpiece to build around in the Nuggets high-powered offense.

OPENING LINE

Nuggets by 7

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings vs. The Unknown -- Cousins manned the post for the last seven years in Sacramento and now he plays for a new team. Coach Dave Joerger has to adapt on the fly if without his leading scorer, rebounder and assist man. Sacramento plays a gritty style and they have won without Cousins in limited opportunities, but this is different. They must reinvent themselves on the fly if they have any hope of finishing the final 25 games strong.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 24-33, third place in Pacific

Nuggets: 25-31, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) and G/F Garrett Temple  (left hamstring partial tear) are out.

Nuggets: No injuries to report. All players participated in shootaround.  

SERIES HISTORY

After sweeping the season series 3-0 last year, Sacramento holds a 1-0 advantage over the Nuggets this year. The all-time series between these two teams is close, but the Kings hold an 87-86 lead after winning four straight and they are up on the Nuggets 64-61 lead during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

“They have a chip on their shoulder. You make a big trade like that and I’m sure the players in that locker room are going to say, ‘everybody’s writing us off because we don’t have DeMarcus.’ They’re going to come out and try and prove everybody wrong. They beat Boston, a very good team, without DeMarcus, and I’m sure that’s the model they’re going to try to use moving forward.” -Michael Malone

Cousins reacts to playing with Davis: 'We can wreak havoc on this league'

Cousins reacts to playing with Davis: 'We can wreak havoc on this league'

METAIRIE, La. -- DeMarcus Cousins says his prayers have been answered, although not necessarily in the way he expected.

The New Orleans Pelicans' newest All-Star maintained on Wednesday that he liked Sacramento and initially wasn't happy about being traded Sunday night, but added he'd become frustrated waiting through six-plus losing seasons for the Kings to add more elite players.

"I would go home, just stressed out, pulling my hair out, you know, praying, praying, praying: Just send me some help."

Cousins is the one who wound up being sent away, but to a team where he joins fellow 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

"Our games complement one another and being together I think is going to make both of our jobs easier," Cousins said shortly before his first Pelicans practice. "We can wreak havoc on this league. Will it happen overnight? Probably not, but our potential is scary."

Davis and Cousins debut as Pelicans teammates at home Thursday night against Houston - a game Davis has been eagerly awaiting since learning of the trade on Sunday night. The deal excited him to the point he had trouble sleeping and texted Cousins around 3 a.m. Monday. Cousins' was up, too, an texted back.

"I was up all night just thinking about how far we could go and what we could do on the court together," Davis said. "We're both excited for the rest of the season, then next year."

Cousins is averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds this season and can become a free agent in 2018 unless the Pelicans can sign him to an extension commensurate to All-Star pay.

Cousins said he's not prepared to discuss his contract situation now, but stressed, "I'm all in. I'll make the best of this opportunity and see what the future holds."

Davis is averaging 27.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season and is coming off his fourth straight All-Star game. On Sunday night, he scored an All-Star game record 52 points and was named MVP.

Without using the term "Big Three," general manager Dell Demps insinuated that he sees the two former Kentucky big men and point guard Jrue Holiday - a former Eastern Conference All-Star - in such a light.

"We just felt that those three guys, putting them together, it's exciting just to think about the possibilities," Demps said.

Holiday, who has struggled with injuries since being acquired in 2013, has been healthy this season and is averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 assists.

The key with Cousins is how he manages his notoriously combustible on-court disposition. Asked to describe how intense of a competitor he is, Cousins grinned and said, "about 17 technicals worth," referring to his league-leading technical foul total. His 16th technical foul resulted in a one-game suspension as would his 18th, 20th and every two technical after that for the duration of the season.

In describing how he and Davis would complement one another, Cousins said, "You've got a little fire; you've got a little ice."

Demps laughed and added, "I couldn't have said it better myself."

Still, Cousins said he was not averse to trying harder to reign in his emotions - a little.

"Being in the position I'm in right now, I'm going to have to turn it down a little bit, to find that balance," Cousins said. "I have to remain myself. That's the way I play. That's what makes me the player that I am, but I do have to find that fine line."

Davis said he knows Cousins is emotional and will be ready to step between him and officials or others to try to keep Cousins calm when tensions rise.

"I'm not afraid of him - at all," Davis said. "When you want to win, you've got to be comfortable telling whoever what they need to hear."

The Pelicans' can't afford any suspensions. The Cousins deal also brought New Orleans forward Omri Casspi in exchange guards Tryeke Evans, Buddy Hield, and Langston Galloway, along with first- and second-round draft picks this summer. The Pelicans need the move to pay immediate dividends. They are 2½ games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with 25 games left.

"I'm extremely, extremely excited about the possibilities," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "It does take time. We're going to try to make it work quickly. That may not be the case but we don't have a whole lot of margin of error right now."