From Comcast SportsNetSEATTLE (AP) -- A wealthy hedge-fund manager won approval Monday for his plan to bring professional men's basketball and hockey back to Seattle, with initially skeptical City Council members agreeing to put up 200 million for a new arena after he promised to personally guarantee the city's debt.Council members voted 6-2 to approve Chris Hansen's plan for a 490 million arena near the Seahawks and Mariners stadiums south of downtown."I was a skeptic when this came forward because I was worried about our taxpayers," said Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw. "The fact that we have a personal guarantee from Mr. Hansen ... that makes a big difference."At the end, we're going to have something the city is proud of."Seattle hasn't had an NBA team since 2008, when the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, devastating their fans here. It's been quite a bit longer since Seattle had major-league hockey: The Metropolitans, who won the Stanley Cup in 1917, disbanded in 1924.The Edmonton Oilers is one NHL team already discussing possible relocation to Seattle after plans for a proposed 475 million arena in Edmonton were thrown into doubt earlier this month.Though the franchise said it still hopes to reach a deal with Edmonton on a new arena, owner Daryl Katz, team president Patrick LaForge and Kevin Lowe, president of hockey operations, were in Seattle for meetings Monday about a possible relocation.The Oilers said in a statement that the team is listening to proposals from a number of potential NHL markets.Hansen, of San Francisco, is a Seattle native, an early investor in Facebook and a big Sonics fan who approached Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn last year in hopes of building a new arena to attract an NBA team and hopefully an NHL team as well. KeyArena, where the Sonics played, is considered outdated and financially unviable. The 200 million in public financing would be repaid by arena-related taxes.The deal Hansen worked out with the mayor's office met with resistance at City Council, where members worried about the effect of more traffic in what is a crucial shipping corridor, thanks to the nearby Port of Seattle, and about creating competition for the publicly owned KeyArena, which turned a profit last year.But Hansen made a number of concessions and won over a majority. In addition to personally guaranteeing the debt payments, he agreed to kick in more money for transportation improvements and 7 million for KeyArena, and he agreed to buy the new arena back from the city for 200 million at the end of the 30-year use agreement if that's what the city wants.He also agreed to be independently audited to assure that he's worth at least 300 million."I want to thank all of Seattle's elected officials and their staffs for their willingness to roll up their sleeves and work with us to get us to this point," Hansen said in a written statement. "Today's vote demonstrates that by listening to each other and working hard to address the concerns of all stakeholders that we can make the arena a reality and bring professional basketball and hockey back to Seattle."The King County Council already approved the original deal but needs to approve the revised version.Under the deal, the arena proposal will undergo an environmental review that could take a year. The review will look at whether other sites, including Seattle Center, where KeyArena is, should be considered.The two city councilmen who opposed the deal, Richard Conlin and Nick Licata, said that while it might be good as far as stadium deals go, that doesn't mean it's a good use of public money. Conlin said that when new businesses typically move into the city, the taxes they generate are a benefit to the city. In this case, he said, the city is giving away 200 million in tax revenue up front, only to collect it back later on.Licata said professional sports franchises aren't like nonprofit cultural organizations like operas or symphonies, which don't threaten to skip town when money's tight."What some citizens see is that those who have a lot of money are using public resources to get more money," he said.
Steph Curry will be one of the leading players in the NBA's new experiment with the All-Star Game.
Curry and LeBron James will pick the teams from the pool of available All-Stars. Conferences are no more, giving the game a completely different look.
"It's the first time it's happened in the league, so you really don't know what to expect or how it's going to unfold, and just specifically, what it will look like on the floor with mixmatched rosters. LeBron has been an All-Star, what 14 straight years? And he's been with Eastern Conference guys every year, so to see him have to pick some Western Conference guys and vica versa, us in the West, you have the staple guys that are there every year. So to switch it up, I think it's going to be a fun look on the floor. Might take some getting used to, but the actual draft part of it will be cool<' Curry said to reporters after shootaround in Houston on Saturday.
LeBron has the first pick since he received more total votes than Curry. So that sets up the dynamic that LeBron picks Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
"That's a possibility. I'm putting together an assistant GM staff that can help me get my draft board and all that stuff and know how to respond if he picks a certain way. Get the algorythm going," Curry said.
Curry's assistant GM staff will consist of his father Dell and brother Seth.
"I may have to ask Riley and see what she thinks," Curry joked.
All-Star reserves will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and it's possible Draymond Green and Klay Thompson could be among the players Curry can select. Does he feel an obligation to pick them if they are available?
"I don't feel obligated. I would want to. To have the opportunity to play with them on the All-Star Game court, that's what it's all about, kind of embracing that moment, so we'll see how it goes," Curry said.
The big debate surrounding the new All-Star Game format is whether or not the draft should be televised or the results made public. As of right now, the NBA has no plans to show the draft on TV or reveals the order in which players were drafted.
"We've had a lot of dicsussions around that. There's a lot of people in favor of watching it live. There's also a lot of people that understand the reasoning why it's not this year. I'm sure as the new format unfolds year after year, it'll happen. But it won't be this first time," Curry said.
So which way does Curry lean in the debate?
"I've always been a proponent of protecting the players. I know that's kind of the unpopular position. I know we're all grown men, we can all handle it, We're all All-Stars, but we want to see how the new format the first time so it's presented in the right light," Curry said.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn't believe players should worry about where they get drafted.
"No shame in being the last All-Star picked. You're still an All-Star," Kerr said after shootaround.
The All-Star teams will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 and game will take play Sunday, Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.
Paul Guenther and Jay Gruden are great friends. The bond formed in Cincinnati, when both guys were Bengals assistants.
Jay Gruden moved on to Washington, and has been that club’s head coach since 2014. Last year, Jay Gruden tried to bring Guenther with him. The Bengals, however, wouldn’t let Guenther out of his contract.
It expired this month, allowing Jay’s brother Jon Gruden to purchase this hot commodity. The Bengals tried to keep him with a lucrative contract offer, but Guenther’s mind was made. He took the job as Gruden’s defensive coordinator, and the four-year contract that came with it. This is about more than money. Jon Gruden presented a unique opportunity worthy of Guenther moving on after 15 years in Cincinnati.
“I’ve known Jon for a long time,” Guenther said this week in a conference call. “Just the ability to come with him and start something fresh from the ground up really excited me. I’ve been in Cincinnati for a long time. My kids were basically raised there. I know a lot of the players. But to have this opportunity with Jon coming to the Raiders and the brand of the Raiders really attracted me. Overall, just an opportunity to come coach with him, see him do it, see how he runs this organization, this team, would be a great thing for me to learn from.”
The Guenther hire was important. He’ll be installing a new system and will have considerable clout running the defense with Gruden focused on the process of scoring points.
Guenther’s defense was built in Cincinnati, with current Minnesota head coach and former Bengals DC Mike Zimmer also contributing to the scheme. He runs a 4-3 defensive front with single-gap responsibilities. What you’ll see from Minnesota in the NFC championship will look a lot like the Silver and Black scheme next season.
“Structurally they’re very, very similar,” Guenther said. “I would say 80, 90 percent of the defense, the calls, the fronts, the coverages, the terminology is all about the same. I spent a long time with Mike. Really, when he came over from Dallas and Atlanta to Cincinnati, he had the system that was probably 60 percent intact and then we kind of built up to where we are today. Certainly, I have my own little things that I added to the defense as I went along. He’s added things. We’re always talking in the offseason, just because we’re close friends, about the things that he’s doing, things that I’m doing. I would say it’s very similar.”
The Bengals didn’t blltz much under Guenther, especially last season. He isn’t averse to bringing extra guys. He just didn’t need to dial up those plays with the Bengals pressuring the passer without extra help.
“It all depends on how many we can get home with four (pass rushers),” Guenther said. “I think the thing you really have to look at is the amount of pressure you’re getting on a quarterback. If you don’t have to blitz and you can get home with four guys.
“…I love blitzing, I got every blitz in the book up on my board here. We got it all – double A’s, overloads – any blitz you can imagine, we have it. That was what my role was with Mike Zimmer (when he was Bengals DC) coming up with the third-down blitzes. I’m certainly all for it, but I think from a team perspective, and you’ve got to really see how the game is going.”
Guenther inherits a defensive depth chart with some star power, young talent and holes aplenty. The Raiders have some issues at linebacker, safety, defensive tackle and cornerback. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are solid off the edge, but the unit needs a talent infusion. There’s roster flexibility, with high-priced veterans easily cut if Guenther and Gruden so choose.
“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” he said. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there’s a lot of good pieces here for a foundation for sure. Obviously, every year, whether you’re the number one defense in the league or the number 32 defense in the league, you’re always looking to add pieces and fill out your lineup card. That’s what we’re going to be working through this spring and through the draft and through free agency as well as developing the young players that we have here. This day and age in the NFL when you draft guys and you think they’re worthy, you have to get them out on the field. You can’t sit on these guys for a couple of years because before you know it, their rookie contracts are over and they’re out the door. I certainly think there’s some good, young prospects here that I’m eager to work with.”