A Sacramento Superior Court judge tossed out a lawsuit that two anti-arena groups had brought against the city after it rejected a petition to put public arena funding up for a vote, report Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee. An official with one of the groups says there will be no appeal, Lillis and Kasler write in a separate story, likely ending any serious threat to the beginning of construction on a $448MM new home for the Kings.
The team is facing a league-imposed 2017 deadline to open a new building. The NBA has threatened to strip the Kings from principal owner Vivek Ranadive and his partners if they don’t complete the project on schedule, and the league has also mandated that the team show timely progress. However, commissioner Adam Silver recently visited Sacramento and expressed supreme confidence in the team’s ability to deliver an arena ahead of the deadline.
There are other, less threatening legal hurdles still in place, as Kasler and Lillis explain. Many of the same arena opponents have filed a lawsuit claiming the city distorted the actual value of its arena subsidy, which the city maintains is $258MM. The same judge will rule on that case. The city must also certify an environmental impact report, and that could prompt additional legal challenges. Sacramento is also involved in an eminent domain lawsuit over a portion of the land upon which the arena is to be built. Construction is set to begin in the fall, assuming none of these obstacles cause a delay.
Chris Hansen, the principal investor behind Seattle’s effort to land the Kings last year, made a $100K contribution to the anti-arena group’s petition drive. He implored the arena opponents not to use the signatures gathered with the help of his money after his secret donation became public, but those signatures were nonetheless among those submitted to the city.
3:27pm: Lowe cautions that he didn’t run into either Kahn or anyone from the Bucks this past weekend, so he hasn’t independently confirmed the story, even though he’s heard the rumor over the past few days (Twitter link).
3:20pm: Grantland’s Zach Lowe seconds the report, having heard plenty of chatter about the news at All-Star weekend (Twitter link).
2:53pm: Former Timberwolves GM David Kahn is the front man for a group that’s looking to buy a share of the Bucks from owner Herb Kohl, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times (Twitter link). Woelfel reported nearly a month ago that there were four “serious suitors” who were considering bids for the team, but Kohl appears to be seeking to add minority owners for now.
Milwaukee might be the league’s most unstable franchise, given the desire of Kohl and the NBA for a new arena. The team’s lease at the Bradley Center, the team’s home for the past quarter-century, expires in 2017. Milwaukee civic leaders have been reluctant to fund upgrades to the existing facility, and while Kohl is “obsessed” with building a new home for the team, as Woelfel wrote last month, it appears securing public funding will be an uphill battle. Concerns about the viability of the Milwaukee market is making the league hesitant to expand to Seattle or anywhere else in the near future.
It’s unclear just how large a stake Kahn and his partners are looking for, or just how much of a role any minority ownership will play in the team’s quest for a new arena. Woelfel pegged the value of the team at anywhere from $380MM to $500MM in his earlier report.
Concerns about the future of the Bucks in Milwaukee, pending TV negotiations, and dilution of on-court talent have prompted commissioner Adam Silver to tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com that the league has no plan in place to put an expansion team in Seattle. Silver lauded Seattle as a “wonderful” market and says that it would be beneficial to the league to have a team there, but he’s maintains that the league is nonetheless holding off on any expansion.
“I and the owners will look at not only dilution of economic opportunities with one more partner to divide national and international money but also dilution of talent,” Silver said. “Right now are already making comments about the (Eastern Conference), so is the ideal time to be adding another 15 or 30 players to the league? Ultimately I’m responsible for the financial and competitive health of a 30-team league and while we made tremendous strides in the last collective bargaining agreement, we’re still not there yet. We don’t have 30 profitable teams in the NBA and while we’ve made progress, there are still teams that aren’t competitive enough.”
It’s unlikely Silver and the league will seriously consider expansion to any city until the situation in Milwaukee is resolved, Windhorst writes. City leaders have been reluctant to fund maintenance to the Bucks’ existing arena, and it could be an uphill battle for the Bucks to secure public money for a new building. The team’s lease at the Bradley Center expires in 2017.
The willingness of a Seattle investment group fronted by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to pony up $800MM in their pursuit of the Kings has Mavs owner Mark Cuban eager to infuse their money into the league. Still, the NBA is set to begin negotiations on a new national TV deal, and until it’s known just how much networks are willing to pay for broadcast rights, teams will likely be unwilling to let a new team in on a share of that revenue, Windhorst explains.
Today’s a good day to be a Seattle resident and there could be even more good news on the horizon for the city. Once commissioner Adam Silver settles into his new job, bringing an NBA team back to Seattle could be at the top of his list, Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio writes. Whether that’s by relocation or expansion, league sources say, is yet to be determined. The league is not totally against adding a 31st team and it’s certainly not in favor of relocation. Here’s more from Amico’s column..
- In addition to the Suns, the Clippers and Hawks are also intrigued by Sixers trade candidate Evan Turner. In addition to Turner, the 76ers are also very open to moving forward Thaddeus Young and center Spencer Hawes.
- The Wizards look to be playoff-bound and are open to making a deal to complement their trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene Hilario. Amico says that fans shouldn’t be surprised if they get in on the Turner/Young/Hawes sweepstakes before the trade deadline.
- The Mavericks haven’t been talked about in the rumor mill all that much but they could pull the trigger on a trade between now and February 20th. The Mavs feel as if they’re a piece away from challenging the likes of the Thunder, Spurs and others, so if they can get Turner for a draft pick they’ll do it.
In what is expected to be his final press conference as commissioner, David Stern defended the NBA’s draft lottery and dismissed speculation that teams may tank games to earn a better chance at a top pick. However, he conceded that the system may need some adjustments, writes Mark Woods of ESPNNewYork.com. ”We made it a bit more slanted to the worst teams, and I think it’s maybe time to look at the lottery and maybe tinker a little more,” he said. “But we’ll see what Commissioner [Adam] Silver wants to do on that.” More from around the Association..
- Silver also confirmed that he would be naming a new deputy commissioner within weeks, Woods writes.
- “Under the right circumstances,” Silver said that he would love to see an NBA team back in Seattle, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.
- The NBA expects more foreign investors to buy into teams, writes Keith Weir of Reuters. Wealthy groups in China, the Middle East and Latin America have all been mentioned as potential investors in NBA franchises. ”We encourage that movement of capital and we think it is inevitable,” Stern said, reflecting on the example set by Mikhail Prokhorov‘s purchase of Nets in 2010. ”In addition we also have an operating structure with a salary cap that very much blunts the impact of pure dollars or pounds or rubles,” he added.
Even though the NBA has 30 franchises, there are still plenty of North American markets that are deserving of teams. Of course, Seattle is at the top of anyone’s list as the rabid Sonics fan base is starved for a new team. Kansas City has also made a strong case for an NBA club in years past and they already have a ~19K seat NBA-ready arena in the Sprint Center. However, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld (via Twitter) says that the league is not going to expand under the current labor agreement. That might change under the new TV deal though, which is currently being worked on. Here’s more from around the Association..
- Speaking of expansion, commissioner David Stern told Chris Mannix of NBC Sports Radio (Twitter link) that the NFL will likely have a team in Europe before the NBA because “it’s relatively easy for a team to play eight home games there.” Stern has said in the past that he is optimistic that there will be a team in Europe in the not-too-distant future.
- Nene and new Wizards center Marcin Gortat have formed a bond in the front court, writes MIchael Lee of the Washington Post. “It’s one thing to have two skilled big men in the block. It’s another thing for those big men to play off each other, and that’s big,” forward Martell Webster said. “When you have big guys down there that have a relationship and a chemistry, it makes it a little bit easier to occupy.”
- Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld reflects on the four-team deal that sent Nikola Vucevic to the Magic last year. At the time, it seemed like the Lakers (Dwight Howard) or the Sixers (Andrew Bynum) would be the big winners, but it turns out that Orlando got the best haul of anyone.
- The price of winning in the NBA varies, writes Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld. The 7-0 Pacers are doling out less than $853K per victory while the 2-4 Nets are paying $7MM for each win.
- In today’s mailbag, a reader asks Mary Schmitt-Boyer of the Plain Dealer if the Cavs should give up on the Dion Waiters experiment and trade him. Even though the guard appears to have taken a step back from last season, Cleveland isn’t as down on him as some fans might be.
- While many thought that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie would either deal Evan Turner at the trade deadline or allow his $6.7MM salary to come off the cap next summer, the former No. 2 overall pick is making a case to stay, writes Thomas Moore of the Courier Times. Turner has been a model of consistency, scoring at least 20 points in six of the 4-3 Sixers’ first seven games. Earlier tonight, Sam Amico of FOX Sports suggested that the Mavericks, Thunder, and T’Wolves could be among the teams with interest if the Sixers decide to shop Turner.
- If the Knicks continue to lose, there’s no telling how owner James Dolan might react, writes Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.
- Magic rookie Victor Oladipo is embracing the challenge of handling the basketball, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
- Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak doesn’t expect Kobe Bryant to return in the next two weeks, writes Pincus for the Los Angeles Times. Kupchak also touches on the ill-fated Chris Paul trade and says that he still hasn’t forgiven Stern for the way things played out.
The season is just two days old, but we may already have seen its most surprising result. The Sixers pulled off a stunning victory against Heat tonight — not too shabby for a team that’s still about $5MM shy of the minimum team salary, as HoopsWorld’s Eric Pincus notes in his look at teams with cap space remaining. Here’s more from a busy 14-game night:
- The Jazz remain in talks with Gordon Hayward about an extension, with just one day left before the deadline for him to sign one, writes Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Mark Cuban doesn’t intend to replace former Mavs GM Gersson Rosas, who resigned yesterday, reports Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
- On “David Stern Day” in Sacramento, the commissioner weighed in on the NBA’s approval of the Kings‘ new ownership group instead of Seattle’s bid for the franchise, as Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com shares via Twitter. “… The owners did the right thing. They had a vote to cast and they cast it in favor of Sacramento,” Stern said.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post hears from a source who says too much was made out of a report earlier today that said owner James Dolan expects the Knicks to win the title this season. Dolan was merely attempting to express his confidence in the team’s players, the source tells Berman.
- Knicks GM Steve Mills isn’t looking to hire any more people to work under him in the team’s front office, but he does intend to restructure some of the roles of his existing staff, as Berman passes along in the same piece.
- Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com points to Spurs second-round pick Deshaun Thomas as an example of why the NCAA need not allow early draft entrants back on their college teams if they don’t make an NBA roster. The agent for Thomas says he’ll make $150K on his contract with JSF Nanterre in France this season, Parrish notes.
Kings team president Chris Granger had been a candidate to succeed Adam Silver as NBA deputy commissioner before he accepted the Sacramento job this summer, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive revealed, reports Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee. Granger told a gathering of Sacramento business leaders that the city's longstanding support of the Kings weighed heavily on the league as it debated letting the club leave for Seattle. There's more from the Kings among the latest from the Pacific Division:
The three teams doling out the greatest number of $10MM+ salaries this year are all from the Eastern Conference, as I examined this evening, but of the leaguewide total of 60 salaries of $10MM or more this season, Western Conference teams are set to pay 29 of them. That's a remarkably even split considering nearly a quarter of those salaries are concentrated with just the Nets, Knicks and Bulls. It demonstrates a depth of highly compensated talent in the West, which has been widely perceived as the NBA's power conference for years. Here's the latest news from the Western Conference:
- Author R.E. Graswich contends in his book that Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson played a secondary role to David Stern in the fight to keep the Kings from moving, as Graswich explains to Cambi Brown of CBS13 in Sacramento. Graswich also claims that Johnson harbors a grudge against the Kings, who drafted Kenny Smith one spot before Johnson went off the board in 1987.
- Andy Rautins spent last October with the Thunder, but it doesn't look like he'll be in an NBA camp this time around. The Fraport Skyliners of Germany have announced on their website that they've signed the former second-round pick (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando).
- Jeremy Lin tells ESPN.com that he believes Dwight Howard's arrival in Houston will alleviate some of the pressure the Harvard grad felt to perform for the Rockets last season, when he was down on himself for not duplicating "Linsanity."
- Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic profiles new Suns coach Jeff Hornacek's assistants, two of whom were Suns teammates of Hornacek in their playing days.
The number of signatures necessary to vote on the public subsidy of a new Kings arena in Sacramento appears to be closing in on the minimum needed for the 2014 ballot, reports Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee.
But the success of that ballot measure hinges on the ability of Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) to find the thousands of signatures financed by Chris Hansen. Hansen was recently fined $50K for contributing $100K to STOP in an effort curb Sacramento's plan to fund a new arena in an effort to buy the team and move it to Seattle.
Here are some some more links from around the league during a slow Saturday in September as most of the NBA world is watching the Mayweather-Alvarez fight…
- Nike PR Director Heidi Burgett shared a video of a Nike talk, via Twitter, where Kobe Bryant discussed what was going through his head after he tore his Achilles tendon during the April game that ended his 2012/13 season prematurely (h/t SI's Ben Golliver).
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star confirms Angolan media reports that MVP of the African championships Carlos Morais will be in training camp with the Raptors (Twitter).
- Former Mavs and Pistons player Mark Aguirre told the Star-Telegram's Full Court Press blog that basketball on both coasts has shifted with the Clippers overtaking the Lakers in Los Angeles and the Nets overtaking the Knicks in New York.
- Star-Telegram beat writer Dwain Price adds, in a tweet, that when asked about the Heat's chances for a 3-peat, Aguirre said, "I don’t know if any of the other teams that are pushing them 4 the title understand how 2 win the big game.''
- Matt Moore of CBS Sports believes there would have been a more formal investigation if the revelations are true about three members of the 1981/82 Knicks colluding to throw games for their drug dealer.