Bears

Maybe the Kings aren't bound for Seattle?

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Maybe the Kings aren't bound for Seattle?

From Comcast SportsNetSACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had a stern warning for Seattle SuperSonics fans who are excited about the prospect of the NBA returning to the Puget Sound next season."Don't celebrate too early," he said.In front of a cheering City Hall crowd filled with fans and public officials Tuesday, Johnson introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in California's capital city.The three-time NBA All-Star guard turned mayor said he has secured 20 investors who have pledged at least 1 million each to be part of a local group to buy the franchise. Johnson said the major partners he hopes will anchor the last-ditch deal to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle will be revealed as soon as this week.A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that billionaire Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov are in "serious talks" to collaborate on Sacramento's bid, which would include a plan for a new downtown arena. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no agreement has been reached.Burkle, a Southern California businessman and co-owner of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, expressed interests in buying the Kings two years ago. Mastrov was among the final bidders for the Golden State Warriors before Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the team for an NBA-record 450 million in 2010.Offering more hope than substance so far, Johnson remained confident he can save Sacramento's only professional team from relocation again."We've been here before," Johnson said. "Our backs have been against the wall. They told us it wasn't going to happen. But each and every step along the way, as long as there is time on the clock, our community always finds a way to stand up for itself."Unlike the last two years, Sacramento is up against a group that already has signed agreements to acquire the Kings and build a new arena for the franchise.The mayor's announcement came a day after the Maloof family announced a deal to sell the Kings to a Seattle group that includes investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. The signed purchase agreement is still pending a vote by the NBA Board of Governors.The group will buy 65 percent of the franchise, which has a total valuation of 525 million, and move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name, another person familiar with the decision said earlier this week. That means the group will pay a little more than 340 million.The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is waiting to be approved. Hansen's group also is hoping to buy out other minority investors.The main stipulation Johnson is counting on is that the Maloofs are still allowed to receive other offers until the league approves the sale, which the mayor expects to take until at least April, when owners meet in New York. The deadline for teams to file for relocation for next season is March 1, though that has been extended the last two years for the Kings.Johnson said he has spoken with more than one heavy-hitting investor to back the plan and produce a "fair and competitive offer." He also said prominent Sacramento-area lawyers have offered to work pro bono for the city's cause."I just say to the fans in Seattle: be cautiously optimistic. Be smart. But this isn't about our city against their city, or one mayor against another mayor," Johnson said. "We have something that's ours and we want to keep it, and we're going to do everything we can to make Sacramento the final resting place of the Sacramento Kings."The final three phases of the mayor's "Playing to Win" plan are finding the major financers to compete with the Seattle group's offer, demonstrating the city's commitment to a new downtown arena and showing the strength of the Sacramento market. None of those crucial pieces have been announced.Some of the 20 proposed minority investors, two of whom Johnson said chose to remain anonymous, stood next to the mayor and spoke about why they agreed to non-binding pledges.The group includes developer David Taylor, who backed a plan to build a 391 million arena in downtown Sacramento before the deal collapsed last year; Phil Oates, a developer and the son of Sacramento-area real estate pioneer Marvin "Buzz" Oates; and Kevin Nagle, a business executive and co-owner of the Town Center who helped increase Sacramento sponsorship and season-ticket sales when the Kings explored a move to Anaheim two years ago."I'm doing this for one reason: it's time to fight," Oates said. "Somebody wants something that I own. It's mine, and I'm not giving it up easily. I owe it to my kids. I owe to my grandchild that's going to be born in May and named after me. I owe it to my neighbors. I owe it to my friends. I owe it to (Sacramento) to fight and go down swinging."Johnson already has saved the Kings from relocation once.In 2011, the mayor made a pitch to the NBA Board of Governors and bought the city time to broker a deal that appeared to solve the team's arena woes. But brothers Joe, Gavin and George Maloof backed out of the tentative deal for a new downtown venue with Sacramento last April, saying it didn't make financial sense for the franchise.Many of those who participated in that plan, from public officials to private investors, showed up at City Hall to offer their vote -- or checkbooks -- one more time."The reason I'm committed to become a local member of the Kings' ownership is I really feel that we as a community need to get a return on all the hours and emotions that we spent trying to keep the team here," Taylor said. "I think we're owed a return on our investment."Johnson maintains that Sacramento's biggest reason to be optimistic is that NBA Commissioner David Stern has granted him permission to address league owners and present a new ownership group and plan to keep the Kings.The mayor commended Seattle's efforts to be an NBA city again, which includes Hansen reaching an agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a 490 million NBANHL arena near the city's other stadiums, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. No construction will begin on that project -- which also faces a pair of lawsuits -- until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.Seattle hoops fans have been reeling since owner Clay Bennett, ironically the chair of the NBA relocation committee now, moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008."When I played in the NBA for 12 years, Seattle had some of the best fans in the NBA," Johnson said. "No different than Sacramento. Incredible fans. And when they lost their team a couple years ago, it was devastating to me, because those fans fought like crazy and rallied and they cheered on the home team. And I strongly believe they deserve an NBA team at some point. Just not ours."

Patrick Mahomes' contract will haunt Bears in 2021

Patrick Mahomes' contract will haunt Bears in 2021

Chicago Bears fans can't escape the nightmare that is Patrick Mahomes. It began in 2018, Mahomes' first season as a full-time starter, when it became obvious that he was a special player who should've been the Bears' pick at No. 2 overall in the 2017 draft. Instead, Ryan Pace chose Mitch Trubisky, who's entering a 2020 training camp battle with Nick Foles for the team's starting job.

Mahomes won the league's MVP award in 2018 and led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory last season, and on Monday, he became the richest athlete in American sports. Kansas City signed him to a ridiculous 10-year extension that could pay him over $500 million by the time the deal is done.

Meanwhile, the Bears declined Trubisky's fifth-year option this offseason, making the 2020 campaign potentially his last in Chicago.

But what if Trubisky has a really good year? That should be good news, right? 

Wrong.

And it's all because of Mahomes.

If Trubisky plays like a quality starter in 2020, the Bears will be forced to pay him a lucrative new contract that, if we're being honest, he doesn't deserve. Even if they choose to buy an extra year by using the franchise tag, Mahomes' new deal will jack up the cost of that contract too. Regardless of the strategy, the Bears will be taking a big gamble on a player who needs more than one good year in 2020 to feel confident about paying. 

And let's say Trubisky flops and it's Foles who excels in the Bears' offense. His contract will be directly impacted by Mahomes as well. Remember: The Bears gave Foles the ability to opt-out of the final two years of his deal if he plays well. If Mahomes' big payday happened next year instead of Monday, maybe Chicago could've retained Foles on a more team-friendly contract. That's no longer the case.

So here we are. It's been hard enough trying to recover from the 2017 draft and the what-ifs that followed. It's bad enough that Mahomes has become the NFL's darling and the best quarterback on the planet. But an entirely new layer of the Mahomes curse is coming; he's going to make the Bears pay (again) for passing on him.

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.

If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.

Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:

NUTS: Home cooked?

The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.

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Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.

“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.

“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”

What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.

“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”

BOLTS: Taking the fifth

All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.

He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).

No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”

He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.

“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”

CHATTER: The mask at hand

“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”

—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.

“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”

—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.

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