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

Disgruntled Bulls PG Rondo throws shade on Kings

Disgruntled Bulls PG Rondo throws shade on Kings

After wearing out his welcome in Boston, Dallas and Sacramento, Rajon Rondo is doing the same in Chicago.

The veteran point guard, who was benched for five games at the end of December and beginning of January, opened up his situation in Chicago during a recent interview.

While talking about what could possibly be the problem with the Bulls, Rondo brought up his one season with the Kings.

“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation. I mean, last year -- I hate to keep talking about last year -- but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game," Rondo told TNT's David Aldridge last week.

While the Kings were mired in a 33-49 season in 2015-16, Rondo racked up an NBA-leading 11.7 assists per game. Russell Westbrook was second with 10.4.

In four games since returning from being benched by coach Fred Hoiberg, Rondo is averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 assists in 22.6 minutes per contest.

Rondo is signed through the 2017-18 season and is scheduled to make just under $14 million next season.

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

SACRAMENTO -- Undisciplined. It’s a word that we haven’t heard much, but it is one of the better ways of describing the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings 40 games into the season.

“We’re not a good team right now - plain and simple,” veteran Matt Barnes said following another loss on Sunday night. “We have what it takes, but we’re undisciplined, we’re not consistent and we lose our focus too much.”

Turnovers, technical fouls, inconsistent offensive and defensive sets - this has become the Kings’ bread and butter. And it’s come to a head during the team’s 1-5 homestand, especially on the Kings’ 122-118 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Tonight, turnovers killed,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “We didn’t execute well. I don’t think we were that great defensively.”

Cousins’ six turnovers was a team-high, but he had plenty of help. Only Garrett Temple failed to give the ball up on the night, leaving nine other players to share in the 22 total miscues for Sacramento.

“We just don’t pay attention to detail and it always comes back and bites us in the ass at the end of games,” Barnes said.

Despite all of the messy play, Sacramento still had a chance. The Kings had an outside shot to erase an enormous deficit and come back and beat OKC. But that has become their modus operandi.

During their six-game homestand, they have trailed by 14 or more points in every contest. On Sunday against the Thunder, they fell behind by 17 and still were able to cut the lead to just three with 26.5 seconds remaining. In a game that often comes down to a few opportunities that go one way or the other, the Kings are more often the team that makes the crucial error.

“It’s a few plays here and there that we think don’t matter early in the game and we end up losing a four point game,” Barnes said. “We’re a hell of a team in the last three minutes of a game. We make it exciting, but most of the time, by that time, it’s too late.”

Kosta Koufos picked up a tech in the second quarter. Barnes picked one up during a crucial moment in the fourth. Cousins had one as well, giving him 11 on the season, but it was the double-tech variety with Russell Westbrook, so it had no impact on the score.

“We complain too much to the refs, you know what I mean,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to worry about the other team. I think we worry about the refs too much.”

Those two points came back to play a major role in a close ball game and they carried no favor with the officiating crew either. It’s possible that the game would have had the same outcome, but it’s difficult to say for sure.

“Stop talking to the officials and let it go,” Temple said. “They’re going to call what they call; I’ve never seen a call changed because a person is talking to the official. It is what it is.”

There is no benefit of the doubt for a team like Sacramento. They have a reputation with the officials that they live up to on most nights. They are in the refs ear from start to finish. When technical fouls are called, it isn’t a surprise to anyone in the building.

“They’re human beings just like us, so if you constantly berate them about calls, that’s not going to help you,” Temple added. “So we’ve just got to leave them alone, try to control what we can control.”

At some point, the Kings need to learn from their mistakes. But at the halfway point of the season, they appear to be regressing. Frustrations are mounting as their playoff hopes once again dim in the month of January.

With the loss, Sacramento fell to 16-24 on the season. They have one game left at Golden One Center on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers before embarking on a brutal eight game road trip.