City of Seattle Rumors

Kings Arena Clears Final Legal Hurdle

July 25 at 2:22pm CDT By Chuck Myron

A judge today denied a request to issue an injunction that would forestall construction of a new arena for the Kings in Sacramento, allowing the city and the team to proceed toward meeting a league-imposed deadline for its completion, reports Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee. A group opposing the project on environmental grounds was the last standing among a wide range of foes who took legal maneuvers to prevent the arena from being built. One such group drew the financial backing of investor Chris Hansen, who fronted a group last year that came close to buying the team and moving it to Seattle.

The NBA negotiated the right to buy the team and sell it to another bidder into the purchase agreement between owner Vivek Ranadive and the Maloof family, the team’s previous owners. That clause would be triggered if the arena weren’t complete by 2017 or if the Kings didn’t show satisfactory progress toward that deadline. Still, commissioner Adam Silver has expressed full confidence that the project will meet its targets. The arena is scheduled to open in 2016.

The primary challenges have been to the city’s $255MM contribution to the $455MM building, and Hansen admitted that he funded a petition drive that sought to put civic funding up to a public referendum. Hansen also said he would seek to withdraw his financial support of the petition campaign, although it’s not clear whether the group returned his reported $100K contribution.

Central Rumors: Bucks, Pistons, Pacers

May 30 at 3:44pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times that the team would retain GM John Hammond, assistant GM David Morway and coach Larry Drew for next season, but fellow co-owner Wesley Edens wouldn’t confirm that, according to Woelfel. Edens is the team’s representative on the Board of Governors, which would appear to give him final say. Bucks officials and executives around the league told Woelfel that former owner Herb Kohl became “livid” with Hammond last season, and that Kohl, had he not sold the team, would have fired the GM, Woelfel hears. There’s more on the Bucks amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen bid $650MM for the Bucks earlier this year, with plans to move them to Seattle, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Kohl rejected the bid in favor of Edens and Lasry, who’ve pledged to keep the team in Milwaukee, but the indirect role Ballmer played in pushing for new arenas in Milwaukee, Minnesota and Sacramento is part of why the NBA finds him appealing for the Clippers, Windhorst hears.
  • Pistons boss Stan Van Gundy calls Andre Drummond and soon-to-be restricted free agent Greg Monroe an “ideal pairing,” but he also points to their shortcomings on defense and the team’s struggles with those two in the lineup together with Josh Smith. Keith Langlois of Pistons.com has that and more from his conversation with Van Gundy.
  • The Pistons hired Brendan Malone and Bob Beyer as assistant coaches and cut ties with assistants Rasheed Wallace, Henry Bibby and Bernard Smith, the team formally announced. Beyer leaves the Hornets to take the job in Detroit. John Loyer, who served as the team’s interim head coach last season, remains as an assistant, but there’s a decent chance the team will reassign him, tweets Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
  • The NBA’s revenue sharing system paid the Pacers $15MM last season, multiple sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe, who also hears that the Grizzlies received that amount, too.

Fallout From Ballmer’s Deal To Buy Clippers

May 30 at 8:56am CDT By Chuck Myron

Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid for the Clippers is set to smash the record sales price for an NBA team, set just two weeks ago when the NBA approved the $550MM sale of the Bucks. The deal faces hurdles, including the NBA’s official OK, but the former Microsoft CEO seems ready to take the helm.

“I love basketball,” Ballmer said in a statement, as ESPN.com notes. “And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles. L.A. is one of the world’s great cities — a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community.”

Here’s more in the wake of the deal between Ballmer and Shelly Sterling:

  • Bobby Samini, one of many attorneys for Donald Sterling, insisted Thursday afternoon to Andrea Chang of the Los Angeles Times that there will be no sale without a signature from the banned Clippers owner. That’s despite a ruling from mental health experts that Donald Sterling is incapacitated, which transfers power over the Clippers to Shelly Sterling according to the rules of the Sterling family trust.
  • All involved with the sale are bracing for a legal challenge from Donald Sterling, but they’re confident the deal will come to fruition, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • The arrangement would give Ballmer 100% ownership of the team, but he agreed to let Shelly Sterling continue to associate with the franchise in some capacity other than ownership, ESPN.com reports.
  • The Sterlings will have to pay $662MM in capital gains taxes on the sale, accountant Robert Raiola tells ESPN.com for the same piece.
  • The deal drew a thumbs-up from some Clippers players, including Blake Griffin, who spoke to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s a great move for us,” Griffin said. “I think it’s putting the final piece to the puzzle together. It kind of allows everybody to go back to focusing on the real goal, and that’s putting 100% of everything into winning a championship for Los Angeles from our side.”
  • Other players around the league, including Ty Lawson and Andrew Bogut, took to Twitter to marvel at the $2 billion price tag and express misgivings about the NBA’s assertion during 2011 collective bargaining agreement talks that teams were losing money (hat tip to Grantland’s Zach Lowe).
  • The NBA has wanted Ballmer as an owner since the SuperSonics left Seattle, so the league probably sees this deal as a win, observes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). It’s probably a loss for Seattle, tweets Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, as Ballmer was the primary financial backer of last year’s bid for the Kings. Ballmer has said he wouldn’t move the Clippers out of Los Angeles.

Sacramento City Council Approves Kings Arena

May 21 at 8:39am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Sacramento City Council approved a public funding plan for a new Kings arena late Tuesday night, as Ryan Lillis, Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee report. The city’s $255MM contribution to the $477MM project largely puts to rest any concern about the team’s ability to meet a league-imposed 2017 deadline for a new building. The funding measure was widely expected to pass, and the council voted 7-2 to approve it. It includes a non-relocation clause that will keep the Kings, who little more than a year ago seemed on their way to Seattle, in Sacramento for 35 years.

“I’ve never been prouder of this community,” Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said. “We had our backs against the wall and we defied the odds. We made a comeback for the ages and in doing so, I feel like we unleashed the very best that Sacramento has to offer. And for this I consider this Sacramento’s finest hour.”

Opponents remain, as a pending lawsuit seeks to stop the arena while a committee is forming with the plan to petition for a public vote that could nullify the council’s vote, according to The Bee. Another group plans a legal challenge stemming from concerns over noise pollution and overcrowding. Still, opponents face a short timetable. Construction on the arena is to begin in November, with completion set for September 2016. The league has retained the right to buy the team back from Vivek Ranadive and his partners if the arena isn’t built by 2017, but commissioner Adam Silver has expressed no worries that the team would run afoul of that deadline.

And-Ones: Watson, Love, Seattle, Isiah, Draft

May 16 at 5:12pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Earl Watson would like to coach the Jazz next season, and he’s picked up the endorsement of restricted free agent Gordon Hayward, as both Watson and Hayward tell Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. Watson, who played with the Blazers this year, hasn’t ruled out playing again next season, but if he becomes Jazz coach, he’ll target Hubie Brown as an assistant, he says. Here’s more from around the league with an altered title picture now that Serge Ibaka is expected to miss the rest of the playoffs.

  • Kevin Love will have some say in who coaches him next season on the Wolves, owner Glen Taylor confirmed to Charley Walters of the Star Tribune. President of basketball operations Flip Saunders has spoken with eight candidates, but he hasn’t endorsed any of them to Taylor, Walters adds.
  • Taylor also said the Wolves lost “a couple million” dollars this year, Walters notes in the same piece.
  • Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who partnered with Chris Hansen on an ill-fated bid to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle, is open to purchasing any NBA team, but wouldn’t necessarily bring them to the Emerald City, as he tells Shira Ovide of The Wall Street Journal. He says he wouldn’t move the Clippers out of Los Angeles if he bought them.
  • Isiah Thomas and the Pistons are in preliminary talks about a deal for him to purchase a minority share of the team, reports Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News.
  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and Cavs GM David Griffin have said they’re open to trading their respective first-round picks for players who can help immediately, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio.
  • Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has political aspirations that would make him reticent to accept the post of executive director of the players union, but the job increasingly appears to be his if he wants it, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times.
  • Hawks and Cavs officials will meet with draft prospect Alessandro Gentile of the Italian league, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia reports. The swingman is No. 66 in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings and 100th with Chad Ford of ESPN.com.

Latest On Potential Bucks Sale

April 15 at 3:27pm CDT By Chuck Myron

3:27pm: Woelfel wouldn’t be surprised if the new owners aren’t among those previously reported to be in the mix (Twitter link).

APRIL 15TH, 3:20pm: Kohl has selected the group he’ll sell to, Woelfel tweets. Woelfel doesn’t specify whether it’s a majority or minority stake that’ll change hands, but judging from his reporting to this point, he’s likely referring to a controlling interest in the Bucks.

APRIL 11TH: The NBA’s Board of Governors will likely make the Bucks one of the primary topics of discussion at their meeting next week, and there’s a “distinct possibility” that they’ll reveal new ownership for the team, according to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. A pair of reports refuted Woelfel’s assertion last month that longtime owner Herb Kohl was likely to give up control of the team this spring, but Woelfel once more suggests a principal stake in the team is up for grabs.

Kohl has set the price at $500MM, Woelfel writes, which scared off potential investor Craig Leipold, who is the majority owner of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Still, there are a number of other buyers who appear to be in play, as Woelfel details. Mark Attanasio, the principal owner of baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers, partnered with former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley when he was reportedly close to buying the Bucks last year, but Heisley’s poor health has caused him to drop out of the mix. Attanasio nonetheless has strong ties to Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., the firm that Kohl has hired to conduct the sale of the team, as does agent Arn Tellem, another rumored suitor, according to Woelfel.

Red Sox chairman and former Padres owner Tom Werner is also in the running for the Bucks, and so is a group of investors from Chicago, Woelfel reports. Former Raptors and Suns executive Bryan Colangelo appears to be linked to the Chicago group, and some around the league tell Woelfel that they believe there’s a chance he’ll head up the team’s basketball operations if the Chicago investors wind up taking over the team.

Health care executive Jon Hammes in the running, most likely for a minority stake, Woelfel writes. Woelfel reiterates the rumors connecting one-time Bucks player Junior Bridgeman and former Timberwolves GM David Kahn to the sale of the team. Chicago-based entrepreneur and neuropsychologist Dr. Richard Chaifetz has publicly expressed interest in owning an NBA team, Woelfel notes, but it’s not clear if he’s connected to the other Chicago investors.

Kohl and the NBA have been aggressively seeking a new arena for the Bucks in Milwaukee, and though it appears that security public funding will be an uphill fight, Kohl has been intent on ensuring the franchise remains in local hands. The principal figure in a group of investors from Seattle, which nearly became the new home of the Kings last year, recently said that he and his partners remain poised to bring an NBA team to the Emerald City.

Western Notes: Young, Llull, Sampson, Kings

April 3 at 6:07pm CDT By Ryan Raroque

Following last night’s game against Sacramento, Lakers guard Nick Young hinted that he plans to opt out this summer and enter free agency (Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reports). The 6’7 swingman referred to his popular epithet when responding to a question about whether or not he’s already made up his mind:  “A little bit. It’s a mystery, though. I’ve got to keep y’all on your toes. That’s what Swaggy P does.”

Last week, we noted that Young would likely test the waters in July and remains interested in re-signing with the Lakers. Though he does hold a 2014/15 player option worth roughly $1.2MM, the L.A. native believes it’s time for a raise: “Most definitely. I deserve much more than that.” 

Here’s what else we’ve gathered out West this evening:

  • The Rockets have the draft rights to Spanish league guard Sergio Llull, but he’s not among the players the team appears to be considering, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Llull, 26, is considered an NBA-level talent, but his contract with Real Madrid would require a hefty in-season buyout, Stein notes (Twitter links).
  • The abruptness of Kelvin Sampson’s departure from the Rockets wasn’t entirely by choice, as league rules mandate that he couldn’t remain with the team after having accepted the head coaching job at the University of Houston, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston.
  • Plans for a new Kings arena in Sacramento took another step forward today as the city won an appeals court ruling allowing it to retain possession of a building that sits on the site where the arena is to be built, as Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee details.
  • Nearly one year removed from a failed attempt to purchase and relocate the Kings franchise, Chris Hansen tells Percy Allen of the Seattle Times: “It’s inevitable Seattle will have a basketball team. It’s just a matter of when…The next time an opportunity comes our way, we’re going to be in a lot better position. We’re not going to have to prove to the NBA that we’re likely to get an arena built. We’ll have a fully-baked, signed off on deal.” 
  • As far as an arena proposal goes, Hansen mentions the EIS (Environmental State Impact) process as one hurdle that needs to be cleared; However, he says that the process is going well and expects it to be settled by this summer at the earliest.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.   

Western Notes: Warriors, Seattle, Rockets

April 2 at 3:30pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Warriors GM Bob Myers thinks coach Mark Jackson has done a “tremendous job” and is supportive of the decision to reassign former assistant coach Brian Scalabrine, as Myers said today on KNBR radio, notes Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group (All Twitter links). Ownership and management have a great relationship with Jackson, Myers also asserted. The reason no one from the Warriors front office has publicly defended Jackson is because the team prefers to have only one spokesperson on the rumors surrounding the coach, according to Myers. Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The group of Seattle investors that came close to purchasing the Kings last season is intact and focused solely on attracting an NBA team to the city, rather than going after an NHL club, primary investor Chris Hansen tells Tim Booth of The Associated Press.
  • Rockets assistant coach and frequent NBA head coaching candidate Kelvin Sampson has agreed to become the head coach at the University of Houston, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. He’s leaving the Rockets after tonight’s game. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported a deal was close.
  • Victor Claver enjoys Portland but he’s not satisfied with his playing time, having seen his minutes cut from 16.6 last year to 8.8 per game this season, as he tells Adriano Correal of Gigantes (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Claver, under contract with the Blazers for one more season, has denied rumors that he wants to return to Europe.

Kohl Close To Selling Majority Share Of Bucks?

March 20 at 8:02am CDT By Chuck Myron

THURSDAY, 8:02am: There doesn’t appear to be a buyer set to purchase a majority stake in the Bucks, according to Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal. Kirchen hears from a source whose input is remarkably similar to that of a source who spoke to Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week. Both Kirchen and Walker write that no deal is imminent in spite of a considerable amount of local and national interest in the club. It’s most likely any new investor would purchase a minority share with an option to buy a principal stake when Kohl is ready to step aside, Kirchen observes, though his source wouldn’t rule out the notion that Kohl could give up control of the team soon. A transaction of some kind will probably take place this summer, Kirchen adds.

TUESDAY, 8:28am: Bucks owner Herb Kohl will likely cede control of the franchise in a deal that would bring new ownership aboard, reports Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. It’s not clear exactly who will be taking over the team, but it won’t be anyone who’ll move the Bucks out of Milwaukee, according to Woelfel, who adds that the sale could take place as soon as late April. Kohl recently turned down a pair of groups with interest in moving the team elsewhere, Woelfel notes.

The 79-year-old Kohl had reportedly been looking for investors to buy minority shares of the club, but it now appears as though he’s ready to give up principal ownership, even though he insisted in late 2013 that he “isn’t going anywhere.” There’s a chance the new regime will keep him around in some sort of capacity, perhaps as an ambassador of sorts, Woelfel writes. Kohl has been particularly intent on building a new arena for the team and making it part of his legacy in Wisconsin, the state he represented for decades in the U.S. Senate.

Four “serious suitors” for the club emerged earlier this year, and it appears as though former Timberwolves GM David Kahn is part of a group that constitutes one of those suitors. Woelfel suggests that the new ownership could be around to make decisions in advance of the draft, but there’s usually a period of at least a few months between the time the sale of a team is consummated and official league approval of the deal. Still, it’s not uncommon for incoming ownership to start calling the shots before the league formally transfers power, so perhaps whoever takes control of the Bucks will indeed start molding the team soon after this season ends.

Concerns about the future of the Bucks are part of the reason why the NBA is apparently reluctant to expand anytime soon, with the threat of Seattle as a vacant market around as motivation for civic leaders to acquiesce to demands for a new arena. The Bucks seemingly face an uphill battle to secure public funding from local governments who’ve shown little willingness to play along. It’s not clear whether a new ownership group will change the atmosphere locally or signal the sort of long-term stability for Milwaukee that would lead the NBA to reconsider expansion.

And-Ones: Bucks, Dedmon, Gooden, Pelicans

March 19 at 3:58pm CDT By Chuck Myron

A source tells Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Bucks owner Herb Kohl is receiving considerable nationwide interest from investors who’d like to buy at least a minority share of the team, and many of them are in close proximity to Milwaukee. Kohl is reportedly close to selling a majority stake in the franchise, but Walker hears that no deal is imminent. Sports business experts say the team would be more valuable in another market, Walker writes, but Kohl has been insistent that the team stay in Milwaukee. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Dewayne Dedmon‘s latest contract with the Magic gives him the chance to make the team’s roster next season, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, so presumably that means the deal covers 2014/15 with a non-guaranteed salary.
  • The Wizards didn’t bring Drew Gooden aboard until last month, but they’d been monitoring him since December, tweets J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Gooden followed a pair of 10-day contracts with a deal Tuesday for the rest of the season.
  • The Pelicans have more than $54MM in commitments for next season, and GM Dell Demps acknowledged that it’s unlikely the team will be a major player on the free agent market, as John Reid of The Times-Picayune observes. Demps also said he doesn’t regret last summer’s Jrue Holiday trade, even though there’s a strong chance it could cost them another lottery pick this year.
  • The Bulls may have to make a few creative cap maneuvers to entice Nikola Mirotic to sign this summer, depending on the dollars-to-euros exchange rate and Real Madrid’s willingness to negotiate the amount of Mirotic’s buyout. Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders has the details.
  • Twelve-year NBA veteran Ricky Davis had been attempting a comeback with the D-League affiliate of the Knicks, but the Erie BayHawks announced that they have cut him loose.