Kings

Kings' owners still undecided on team's future

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Kings' owners still undecided on team's future

April 22, 2011
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SACRAMENTO (AP) The future of the Sacramento Kings is headed to another overtime.Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said Friday that his family is still deciding whether to move the franchise to Anaheim, and he confirmed that NBA officials will be in Sacramento again next week to further research the city's viability.Maloof told The Associated Press he's "as anxious as anybody" to find out if Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promises for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena. He denied reports the team has already made a decision."There's been no decision made," Maloof said. "As far as we're concerned, we're still looking at our options."The Kings have until May 2 to request permission to relocate, and a majority vote by owners is needed to approve any move. While Johnson has become increasingly optimistic that the team will remain in Sacramento next season, Maloof said the team still wants to know more information about the region's proposals.Part of that started to filter out this week.Johnson ended two days of meetings in Sacramento with NBA relocation committee chairman and Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett and league counsel Harvey Benjamin. Johnson's desperate pitch to league owners a week earlier in New York was enough for NBA Commissioner David Stern to send out the "fact-finding team," and the mayor's proposals when they arrived swayed the league to dispatch more representatives next week.In the end, the Maloofs could still choose to put a vote before owners."I don't know that Kevin Johnson's meeting in New York swayed the NBA one way or another, but I think that the NBA next week is going to go into Sacramento to verify a lot of the promises Kevin Johnson made to the board," Maloof said. "There were various sponsorship promises and a promise to show the board, once and for all, how a new arena not only will be planned, but financed."For a league that usually rubber-stamps relocation requests, Sacramento certainly seems to have done all it can to fight back.Johnson presented more than 9.2 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from regional businesses and other backers. He said that would help the Kings next season and allow the city more time to complete a plan to build - and finance - a new arena, which the cash-strapped city has refused to contribute public dollars toward for years.Once the meetings were finished, Johnson even rode with Bennett to the airport and said the league's relocation committee chairman - who moved the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City three years ago - was impressed with Sacramento's latest presentation."They just said to us we delivered on what we were supposed to do," Johnson said, adding that he hasn't heard from the NBA or the Maloofs on a final decision. "It's not a done deal yet. I've heard a lot of rumors. But I don't think we're at a point by any means that we can declare victory."The league has no plans to send a similar investigative team to Anaheim.NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed officials will be back in Sacramento next week to continue studying Sacramento's proposals. The league offered no further comment on the meetings other than to say: "Clay Bennett had informative meetings with the mayor, elected officials and business leaders and will be reporting back to the Relocation Committee next week."Sacramento rolled out a purple carpet for the NBA while they could.The business community encouraged fans with all kinds of specials for patrons wearing purple. Everything from margaritas and sangrias to ice cream and popcorn were dyed purple and there were a slew of signs downtown and around the state Capitol asking the NBA for support."Stand up for Our Town. Our Fans. Our City," one poster read.It was hard to walk anywhere around Sacramento and not see Kings colors the past two days. A few dozen Sacramento supporters even rallied with signs outside NBA headquarters in New York, part of social-networking effort that took shape with even those no longer in Sacramento."I'm wearing purple cause we (are) trying to keep the Kings in Sacramento!" former Kings star and TNT analyst Chris Webber wrote on his Twitter page.There's also an effort led by a Sacramento political consultant to thwart a 75 million financing plan that Anaheim's City Council approved to lure the Kings to the Honda Center. In a letter to Benjamin, Sacramento political strategist Rob Stutzman said he will turn in more than 11,000 signatures to Anaheim officials Monday that supports a referendum to reverse the financing package, possibly forcing a public vote that wouldn't take place until June 2012.The Maloofs maintain they have no issue with the efforts by Johnson or Sacramento. They also don't believe their relationship in Sacramento is strained to the point they couldn't return."I think the Sacramento fans appreciate the Maloof efforts over the past several years," Maloof said. "We've spent several million dollars and hundreds of man hours in trying to find a solution for a new arena in Sacramento. It's not like we were there one, two, three, or even four years."We've tried and tried again, in conjunction with city leaders and politicians and city leaders. I think the fans will definitely welcome us back because we've been fair. The question I always ask fans is, 'What would you do?' We've been honest."

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

SACRAMENTO -- The fans came to watch De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball square off for the first times as professionals Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They ended up being treated to a breakout performance by Sacramento’s second team.

“It’s not all about Fox and Ball, it’s about Kings and Lakers,” Frank Mason said after another solid performance. “I’m just happy we got the win as a team.”

Coming into Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings ranked first in the league in bench scoring at 48.1 points per game. The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t far behind, posting 40.6 a contest, good enough for fourth in the NBA.

Sacramento received solid contributions from almost every player that stepped on the floor, including 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from starter Zach Randolph. But the group that came off the bench put on a show, outscoring Los Angeles 67-38.

In his fourth game in a reserve role, Willie Cauley-Stein scored a game-high 26 points in 28 minutes, including 13 in the fourth quarter as the Kings pulled away. He drew a crowd around his locker during post game, but he was the direct beneficiary of some stellar play by others.

Mason and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic broke down the Lakers defense countless times and found Cauley-Stein for the poster dunk. According to the official scoresheet, nine of Cauley-Stein’s 10 made baskets were assisted, including five alley-oops from Bogdanovic.

“We talked about it yesterday when we were icing,” Cauley-Stein said of his Serbian guard. “We were both sitting in the cold tub and exactly what happened is what we were talking about.”

Cauley-Stein is gifted athletically and he’s extremely long. He was a star receiver in high school and he knows how to go up and get a ball.

“I think he realizes, (he’s) just got to get it up there and I’m going to go get it,” Cauley-Stein said of Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic hit his first two 3-point attempts and it seemed to open the floor up for Sacramento. With defenders going over screens to defend the long ball, Bogdanovic used his dribble to get free.

When the Laker’s bigs stepped in to stop his dribble, Bogdanovic tossed the ball near the rim and Cauley-Stein finished with authority.

“It’s easy to play with Willie, because he can catch,” Bogdanovic said. “I didn’t pass perfectly those alley-oops, but he likes to be a little higher than usual.”

Both Bogdanovic and Mason set new career-highs in assists, finishing with seven dimes apiece off Dave Joerger’s bench. Bogdanovic dropped in 14 points and picked up two steals. Mason added 11 points and five rebounds.

The smallest player to step on the floor, Mason brings a physicality the Kings have lacked early in the season. Since earning rotational minutes four games ago, the 23-year-old is posting 9.8 points and 4.3 assists in 22 minutes a game.

“That’s who I am, that’s who I’ve always been,” Mason said when asked about his toughness. “I take a lot of pride in someone scoring on me and I play every possession like it’s game point.”

With the win, the Kings improved to 4-4 on their home floor and 5-13 overall this season. They’ll take Thanksgiving off, but return to practice Friday in preparation for the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday evening. They’ll need another big evening from the bench unit if they hope to build momentum going forward.

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.