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Kings' possible move leaves players, fans in limbo

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Kings' possible move leaves players, fans in limbo

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Aaron Brooks has been in an awkward spot since news surfaced that the Sacramento Kings could be sold and moved to his hometown of Seattle.

The Kings guard has no answers for family and friends who have been calling and texting for information. Even the excitement his brother, Alvertis, had when he showed up for a visit evaporated once he realized those in Sacramento might feel the same sorrow as when the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

``Seattle does need a team. But you would hate to have a team leave a city you know wants a basketball team,'' Brooks said. ``It's unfortunate.''

For Sacramento players, coaches and fans, this is not an easy time.

In the first game since the latest - and perhaps most serious - round of relocation talks began, the Kings lost to the Dallas Mavericks 117-112 in overtime Thursday night, with chatter around the aging arena seemingly centering on everything but basketball.

Newspaper and television reporters from Seattle showed up along with an increased local media presence. Fans contemplated whether they should keep supporting a team they love. Ushers and parking attendants who depend on the team for work approached reporters wondering if they knew what might happen.

Even players and coaches admitted all the attention made it difficult to focus on the game.

``It's definitely going to be a distraction,'' said Kings coach Keith Smart. ``But we're pros. We've got to figure out a way how to separate the two and then get ready to play.''

Seattle investor Chris Hansen has contacted the Maloof family about buying the Sacramento Kings, people with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday. 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, topping the NBA-record $450 million the Golden State Warriors sold for in 2010. The Kings' future in California's capital city has been uncertain since the Maloofs backed out of a tentative $391 million deal last year for a new downtown arena in Sacramento.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the discussions between the Kings and Hansen, saying 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.

Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is from Tacoma, Wash., and played at the University of Washington in Seattle, said the news has been difficult to ignore.

``I've seen the Sonics go. I've seen when a team gets taken away from a city and devastates the fans. It's not a good thing,'' Thomas said. ``I don't wish moving a team on anybody.''

Perhaps the most difficult decision has been placed on fans.

The Kings, once home to one of the most fervent fan bases of any sport in the country, have not made the playoffs in seven seasons. Since the collapse of last year's arena deal, attendance has been down, and apathy has been up. Sacramento entered the game ranking last in the NBA in average attendance at 13,177 per game.

``What (the Maloofs) are doing is like throwing their problems away,'' said 26-year-old Kings fan Nicole Shearer, whose parents were season-ticket holders from the first season in 1985 until 2007. ``I think they realize how this affects people, but they really don't care. It's been a series of continuous problems for them as owners. But if they really cared, they would try to stay and work things out.''

The Kings-Mavericks game, with an announced attendance of 14,011, had its usual scattered Sacramento crowd.

The Maloofs, who have not shown up in their usual courtside seats in recent weeks, have declined to comment on any talks about the future of the franchise. Their parking spots at the side entrance of the arena also were empty.

Only a handful of signs such as ``Sactown Needs This Team,'' ``Here We Stay'' and ``Our Town, Our Team'' could be seen. Another read: ``Accepting money for Kings relief fund.'' No derogatory shouts or chants could be heard, either, as has happened in years past.

``It's horrible that the Kings could be leaving,'' said Kasim Ersoy, who has lived in Sacramento for two years. He became a Kings fan when he watched the Chris Webber-Vlade Divac combo on television growing up in Germany. ``Basketball is my favorite sport in the U.S., so it will be very sad to not have an NBA team any longer in Sacramento.''

Other Sacramento fans launched a fight to keep the team - again.

The grass-roots organization Here We Stay, which has worked to keep the Kings for two years, started an online petition drive urging the NBA to allow a Sacramento buyer to match any offer from Hansen and give Seattle an expansion team instead. The petition had drawn more than 4,000 signatures within 24 hours.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has 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. It's not the first time Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, has faced a difficult challenge.

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. After the Sacramento City Council approved the arena deal last March, Johnson joined hands with Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof at center court before a game.

A month later, the Maloofs said the deal didn't make financial sense for them. Then the city and the team ceased negotiations, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate.

``Every year they're talking about we're going to a different city. One year it's Seattle. Another year it's Virginia Beach. Then Anaheim another year. Nothing really surprises me,'' Kings forward Jason Thompson said. ``We can only control what we can control. All we can do is put the ball in the bucket and try to win. It's a tough situation for everybody.''

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No Redskins receiver broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2017, and bluntly, the receiver position did not unfold like the front office designed.

Terrelle Pryor proved a free agent flop, and while Josh Doctson flashed talent, the consistency did not follow. Jamison Crowder led Washington with 789 receiving yards while 34-year-old tight end Vernon Davis was the team's second leading receiver. 

The Redskins need more at wideout in 2018, and the front office acted on it. 

The team signed Paul Richardson in free agency, and advanced statistics suggest he could make an impact right away. Richardson has vertical speed in a way the organization hasn't had since DeSean Jackson went to Tampa two seasons ago. 

Doctson could emerge as a true No. 1 WR, and Richardson's speed will help. Sources inside Redskins Park question if Doctson is the type of wideout that can beat cornerbacks off the line. Instead, the team believes Doctson is best when using his athleticism to go up and get balls. That skillset was best illustrated for Doctson in the end zone, where he grabbed six TDs last season. 

Crowder could again lead the Redskins in receiving yards. New QB Alex Smith likes to look to his inside receivers, and with defenses having to account for more speed on the field in Richardson, Crowder should get plenty of open looks. 

Ultimately, the question is if the Redskins will have a 1,000-yard receiver. The answer is an unknown, but the evidence suggests they won't.

No 1,000-yard wideout does not spell doom for Washington. In the last two seasons, eight of 12 NFC playoff teams had a receiver get into four digits. Among the teams that did not get that kind of production from one wide receiver: 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Remember, that team won the Super Bowl. 

Further down the roster, Washington has contributors but unlikely a breakout star. Maurice Harris has great hands and Robert Davis has shown plenty of athleticism, but significant production would be a surprise. Rookie Trey Quinn could be a player that helps the 'Skins, particularly should Crowder get banged up this year like he did last year, but a 1,000-yard season for a 7th-round rookie seems pretty absurd. 

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Jeff Green hopes recent playoff success can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green hopes recent playoff success can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green's basketball résumé got a significant boost this spring and summer as his Cleveland Cavaliers marched all the way to the NBA Finals before they were swept by the Golden State Warriors. It was Green's first time going past the second round of the playoffs and the experience, he says, was invaluable.

Green has come about as close to winning a championship without actually winning one and he certainly hopes to get back in that position. Green believes his new team, the Washington Wizards, have the tools to make a deep playoff run and it's one of the reasons why he signed a free agent deal to join them.

"Being there last year myself with Cleveland, I know it takes a lot. It takes a lot of pieces. I feel like this team has them," he said. "We can get back to that point. When I got the call, I felt like it was the best opportunity for myself to get there."

The Wizards' franchise has not been past the second round of the playoffs since 1979, when they were known as the Bullets. That was before anyone on their roster was born.

But Green pointed to the open Eastern Conference and the talent on the roster as reasons to believe they can accomplish some things that they haven't in decades. They may be capable, but putting it all together is easier said than done.

Green hopes to be one of the glue guys necessary for the Wizards to reach their potential, in part by sharing the lessons he learned.

"Never take it for granted. There are a lot of greats that have never been there," he said. "Getting to the Finals and being part of that was beyond amazing. With the experience and seeing what it took, I can bring that here and get everybody on the same page of knowing what it takes and the sacrifices that you have to do to get to that point."

Green over and over mentioned how it takes a collective effort to go to the conference finals and beyond, but he did show some self-awareness and a sense of humor about his own experience in Cleveland. All teams are different and the one he just left was a unique situation.

"You can’t get there individually. I mean, you can, we did last year. I mean, LeBron [James] carried us all the way there," he joked. "But there’s only one LeBron, but to get there you have to have team unity. You all have to be on the same page and sacrifice to make sure you’re doing what it takes to get the team there. I think that’s the biggest key. It’s not an individual thing… unless you’re LeBron."

If the Wizards are to reach their goals and go to the conference finals or the NBA Finals, they will have to do it differently than the Cavaliers did. They do not have a player on the level of James who can do much of it by himself. But Green said the process of imparting his wisdom has already started.

"I talked to John [Wall]," Green said. "Knowing that he wants to get to the Finals, I was just picking his brain and what he thinks is needed to get there. And me sharing my experience of getting to the Finals and what it takes."

The Wizards have reached a point as an organization where they have urgency to reach new heights. Green believes he can help them get there.

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