From Comcast SportsNetSEATTLE (AP) -- Investor Chris Hansen has contacted the Maloof family about buying the Sacramento Kings, setting up the possibility of the NBA's return to Seattle.Hansen's interest was confirmed Wednesday by people with knowledge of the situation. They spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because no deal has been reached.One person said the Kings could sell for more than 500 million. The Kings' future in Sacramento has been uncertain because the Maloofs and the city haven't been able to come up with a long-term arena solution.Yahoo! Sports first reported the discussions between the Kings and Hansen. Yahoo! reported a possible sale could land the Kings in Seattle for the 2013-14 season, where the team would play at KeyArena as a temporary home until a new arena is constructed."I know as much as you do," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said when asked about the situation. "If it's true, ain't it cool?"His counterpart in Sacramento thought the news anything but cool. At an afternoon news conference, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Wednesday was significant because for the first time Kings fans know the team is for sale. Johnson said he would do all he could to try to find a buyer with a Sacramento connection to possibly purchase the team and keep it in California's capital city."We're going to fight, and we're used to being in this situation," he said.Hansen, a Seattle native and San Francisco-based investor, reached agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a 490 million arena near the city's other stadiums, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. As part of the agreement, no construction will begin until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.Hansen's group is expected to pitch in 290 million in private investment toward the arena, along with helping to pay for transportation improvements in the area around the stadiums. The plans also call for the arena to be able to handle a future NHL franchise. The remaining 200 million in public financing would be paid back with rent money and admissions taxes from the arena, and if that money falls short, Hansen would be responsible for making up the rest. Other investors in the proposed arena include Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom department store family.Hansen's goal has been to return the SuperSonics to the Puget Sound after they were moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008. Asked in September if he could envision a team being in Seattle for the 2013 season, Hansen was cautious about finding an option that quickly.The NBA had no comment. Representatives for Hansen did not return messages seeking comment. Any franchise looking to relocate must submit its plans to the NBA by March 1 and the move must be approved by the league."As we have said for nearly a year, we will not comment on rumors or speculation about the Sacramento Kings franchise," Maloof family spokesman Eric Rose said when contacted Wednesday by the AP.The Kings' asking price would top the NBA-record 450 million the Golden State Warriors sold for in July 2010. Johnson said he's had past discussions with more than one group about possibly stepping forward as owners if the Kings were up for sale."All indications that I have seen and read and heard is they are exploring opportunities to sell the team, and that is public and that is the first I have ever heard," Johnson said. "We need to put ourselves in a position to find an ownership group and buyers to keep the team here in Sacramento."Johnson said he had not spoken with any members of the Maloof family or NBA Commissioner David Stern on Wednesday.News of the discussions came a day after officials in Virginia Beach, Va., announced they were dropping their efforts to build a new arena. Virginia Beach had been reported as a relocation option for the Kings.The Maloofs backed out of a tentative 391 million deal for a new downtown arena with Sacramento last year, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate. Johnson and the Kings broke off all negotiations in the summer with the Kings, saying the deal didn't make financial sense for the franchise.In 2011, the Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim 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 in April 2011, promising league owners the city would find a way to help finance a new arena to replace the team's current outdated suburban facility. That pitch bought the Kings time, before the brokered deal between the city and the Maloofs fell apart last year.Johnson said the Maloof family still must repay a 77 million loan to the city and other lenders.While some players around the league took to Twitter on Wednesday to express their excitement about the possibility of the NBA returning to Seattle -- especially those players from the Puget Sound area -- others were more reserved."There's a part of me that's disappointed because Sacramento, I've enjoyed my times. I think Sacramento is a great town," said current Denver coach and former Seattle coach George Karl. "I'm not going to lie -- I'm happy that Seattle is going to have a team more than Sacramento. But I am disappointed that Sacramento can't keep their team."
The first came in the second quarter, when Brandin Cooks turned on afterburners to beat a Raiders double team and glide underneath a Tom Brady heave for 52 yards. The second came in the third quarter, on the third play from scrimmage of the second half, when Cooks faked an out-route, jetted past rookie corner Obi Melifonwu, and sped into the end zone to make the score 24-0.
Both deep completions in New England's 33-8 win over Oakland just added to cumulative effect that Cooks has had on the Patriots offense since arriving before the season to become their top deep threat.
Paired with Brady, Cooks has actually become the most productive deep threat in the NFL.
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According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks leads all receivers with 431 yards on deep passes (throws that travel 20 yards or more down the field). In second place is Houston's DeAndre Hopkins with 313 yards.
And Brady, who has long been more effective in the short-to-intermediate range than he has been deep, is now among the league leaders in creating explosive plays from the quarterback position. The Patriots are third in the NFL with 41 pass plays of 20 yards or more, and they are tied for second with nine plays of 40 yards or more.
"You're always trying to work on that," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show of his team's deep passing game. "It's not one particular year [you work on it]. I think that's been a concerted effort by our entire offense, trying to make more explosive plays in the pass game.
"Sometimes your offense is built differently. We actually have some guys now that can really get down the field so that becomes more of a point of emphasis. The way Brandin runs, the way that Chris Hogan runs, the way that Phillip Dorsett runs, they're very fast. You need to be able to take advantage of their skill set . . .
"When we had David Patten we were throwing it deep. I mean, but David Patten didn't run a lot of short routes. I would say Brandin Cooks, in general, he doesn't run a lot of short routes. Everyone has a different role. If we can get by you, I think that's a good place to throw the ball. if we can't, we gotta figure out ways to throw it underneath and different weeks are going to call for different things based on the strengths of the defenses we're playing, too."
A week before beating the Raiders, against the Broncos and their talented corners, the Patriots had less luck pushing the ball down the field -- though they tried to hit Cooks deep multiple times. In Mexico City, Cooks matched up with a weaker secondary, and he wasn't at all slowed by the altitude, catching six passes in all for 149 yards and a score.
Per PFF, Cooks has seen almost one third of his targets (30 percent) come on deep passes, which is the ninth-highest rate in the league. He's caught all 11 of his catchable deep passes, three of them accounting for scores.
"Obviously when you're throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field," Brady said, "your chances of completion go down, but if you hit it, it ends up being a very explosive plays and you can change a lot of field position and get a defense really on their heels if they have to defend every blade of grass on the field."
NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE
After arriving in Boston and spending some time with his new teammates, Kyrie Irving felt good about this group doing big things this season.
But when asked about the experience thus far being what he thought it would be, Irving responded, “It’s probably exceeded that.”
He’s not alone.
Few would have envisioned the Celtics (15-2) would have the best record in the NBA at this point, let alone be riding a 15-game winning streak which ranks as the fifth-best winning streak in franchise history.
Irving and his Celtics teammates will try and keep it going tonight when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.
Irving’s ability to mesh with his teammates and still find success was among the many questions out there when the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the blockbuster trade this offseason.
Blending in has not been an issue for Irving, bolstered by the reality that his game stands out.
We saw that in Boston’s 110-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which was a game in which Irving had 30 points on an insanely efficient 10-for-12 shooting night.
There were many factors that went into Irving’s strong night against the Hawks, but he said it really came down to one thing above all else.
“I just made some damn shots for once,” Irving quipped. “That right there kind of made it seem better than I actually been shooting over the start of the season. It would also contribute to being able to be in the right spots and guys being selfless in their approach driving to the basket or getting into the paint. It’s tell-tale sign of all of us getting more comfortable.”
Here are five below-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on as the Boston Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks, with Boston gunning for its 16th straight win.
BROWN’S POSITIVE PLAY
Jaylen Brown has been on a bit of an offensive tear of late, the last being a career-high 27-point performance in Boston’s win over Atlanta. But even more telling is how well things seem to flow with him on the floor. Brown’s plus/minus this season is +146 which is tops among all players in the Eastern Conference. His closest competition in the East? That would teammate Al Horford whose plus/minus this season is +143. In addition, Horford has had a positive plus/minus in every game this season.
You can count Yogi Ferrell among the ones that got away from Brad Stevens when he was coaching at Butler. Ferrell, who played at Indiana, was a player on Stevens’ radar when he was coaching at Butler. “I recruited Yogi, unsuccessfully,” Stevens told reporters in Dallas. While Ferrell came on strong as an undrafted free agent with the Mavericks last season, Stevens said there’s nothing about Ferrell’s game now that he didn’t see when he tried to woo him to Butler. “He would have been awfully good at Butler,” Stevens said.
While Marcus Smart grew up in Flower Mound, Texas (less than an hour from Dallas), tonight’s game is a homecoming of sorts for another Celtics player – Semi Ojeleye. The 6-foot-7 forward played at SMU which is located in Dallas. A second-round pick by Boston in last June’s NBA draft, Ojeleye has been among the many surprise performers for the Celtics this season. “We knew he could be a versatile defender,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Probably has exceeded our expectations in that regard with his ability to guard one (point guard) through five (center) at certain times. And he’s been pretty consistent shooting the ball. Right now, embracing that kind of 3-and-D role is what he has to do and he’s done it well.”
DEEP DRAFT CLASS
The Boston Celtics struck gold by drafting Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. But as you look at the teams that had lottery picks in last June’s NBA draft, few come away feeling disappointed or discouraged by the player selected. The Dallas Mavericks are among the teams pleased with their first-round pick, Dennis Smith Jr. who was selected with the ninth overall pick. He has emerged as one of the top rookies this year, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. And yes, he was a player that was on the Celtics’ radar leading up to last June’s draft. “We had Dennis in and he was really impressive,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s a guy that’s going to have a great career and he’s got good veteran players around him to help kick it off.”
The numbers aren’t anywhere close to what we’ve seen for the bulk of Dirk Nowitzki’s illustrious career that’s now in Year 20. But there is a demeanor about him that seems to be at peace with where he’s at basketball-wise, even if the wins aren’t nearly as plentiful as he’s accustomed to. “I appreciate his game a ton,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Just watching him talk on the court, cheer on the bench, sit at the scorer’s table with a smile on his face. You can’t play this long and be this good this long if you don’t’ love it. Everybody says they love it, but he’s got a different level of passion. You can feel it, you can see it. You root for guys like him to have success.”