Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms announced last week that he was setting a January 7th deadline to reach an agreement with a professional sports team to move to the city. No announcement was made Monday, but Sessoms and Peter Lukko, the president of Comcast Spectacor, are expected to announce today that negotiations to bring a team to Virginia Beach are at a standstill, reports Bruce Rader of WAVY-TV (hat tip to Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty). The Sacramento Kings were the team considered to be Virginia Beach's target.
With no agreement in hand, the city of Virginia Beach will not ask the state for $150MM to help finance an arena deal. While the proposal to build a professional sports arena in Virginia Beach isn't entirely dead, it appears it will be shelved for now.
Rader suggests that the Kings and their owners will likely explore other avenues now that Virginia Beach no longer seems to be a realistic option. That could mean simply staying put in Sacramento, or perhaps discussing relocation with another city. Ziller notes that the next big rumor figures to be the possibility of a sale to the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard both deny a report that they engaged in a "heated exchange" after a loss last week, notes Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. They and coach Mike D'Antoni had some fun with it, though, posing for a photo of a mock duel between the two superstars that Bryant posted on his new Twitter account. It might be considered gallows humor for the Lakers, who sit at 15-18, but at least they're a step up from the Kings, who are 13-21 and have endured their share of reports about locker room dissent, too. Here's the latest on a pair of intriguing, if not winning, teams.
- Dan Fegan, the new agent for DeMarcus Cousins, met with Kings GM Geoff Petrie today, but Fegan didn't ask that his client be traded, USA Today's Sam Amick reports (Twitter links). The Kings continue to insist they're not interested in any Cousins swap.
- Today was the deadline that Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms set for securing an arena deal, but an announcement of whether the funding has been secured won't come until tomorrow, writes Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee. The mid-Atlantic city is rumored to be in pursuit of the Kings.
- Despite a rash of injuries to their big men, the Lakers have no immediate plans for the roster spot they opened up by waiving Darius Johnson-Odom today, tweets HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler, who points out the free space gives them added flexibility in case they make a trade down the line.
- Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com poses five key questions for the Lakers, and believes that if the team isn't right around .500 come February, there will be significant changes to the roster.
- Zach Lowe of Grantland.com ponders the implications of the once-unthinkable prospect of the Lakers missing the playoffs this year.
The Pacific Division was widely expected to be a two-team race this season, and that's been the case so far, but it's the Warriors that have crashed what was supposed to be an all-L.A. party. Golden State sits just 2.5 games back of the division-leading Clippers, while the third-place Lakers are nine games back of their Staples Center rivals. Here are a few Friday morning updates out of the Pacific:
- Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms has set a Monday deadline to reach an agreement with a professional sports team to move to the city, according to Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee. If the city hasn't signed a lease with a team, such as Sacramento's Kings, by that time, then the mayor is expected to pull the plug on Virginia Beach's arena efforts for the year. "We have a timeline that is right upon us to go to the state to ask for a substantial amount of money," Sessoms said. "We are not going to go up there and make a fool of ourselves. I need to know something by Monday."
- Chris Paul tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he "never, ever" thinks about the possibility of playing with the Lakers, more than a year after David Stern vetoed a trade that would have paired CP3 with Kobe Bryant.
- After indicating that he'd like to coach after his playing career ends, Metta World Peace discussed his potential coaching style with reporters, including the Kamenetzky Brothers of ESPNLosAngeles.com (YouTube link). I get the impression that the Lakers forward hasn't considered the subject extensively yet.
Although the Lakers are receiving all the headlines and attention for their slow start this season, another team expected to be a contender in the West has had its own struggles so far, without the injuries or coaching turnover that the Lakers have. The Nuggets pulled their record to .500 last night, however, with a solid win in Detroit, while the Lakers continued to slide, losing to Kyrie Irving and the Cavs in Cleveland. As the Nuggets prepare to play in Minnesota tonight and the Lakers head to New York for a Thursday night TNT showdown with the Knicks, let's round up a few other updates out of the Western Conference:
- "Your odds of winning the Powerball lottery are better" than the odds of O.J. Mayo exercising his $4.2MM player option with the Mavericks next season, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. However, that doesn't mean Mayo won't be a core piece in Dallas going forward.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle looks at how offseason acquisitions James Harden and Jeremy Lin are fitting together with the Rockets.
- Although the Nuggets are off to a slow start this season, the front office continues to express complete confidence in the current roster, Danilo Gallinari tells Lang Greene of HoopsWorld. Gallinari singled out the Nuggets' extension for Ty Lawson as a confidence-booster for the entire team: "Especially with a player like Ty who is going to play with the Nuggets for a long time. For all of his career. It was very important for us because he’s a great guy and I thought our front office did a very good move in giving him a long contract."
- Within Greene's piece, the HoopsWorld scribe also details how Jerryd Bayless has been making a strong impression with the Grizzlies after signing a two-year deal this summer. Bayless will have the opportunity to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent again at season's end.
- While Virginia Beach City Council voted to continue pursuing a new arena, council members seem to recognize that the current proposal includes too much public money, writes Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee.
Although Jason Kidd and the Mavericks didn't seem to part ways on the best of terms this summer, Mavs owner Mark Cuban had kinder words for Jason Terry, who also left Dallas over the offseason. Cuban said Monday that the club looked at the possibility of a multiyear deal for Terry, but "couldn't make the numbers work," according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
"I would have liked for him to stay," Cuban said. "But I understood what his goals were. He’s always going to be special and hopefully when his career is over he’ll come back and work with us."
As Terry and his new club, the Celtics, prepare to host Cuban's Mavs tomorrow, let's round up a few more updates out of the Western Conference:
In recent years, many NBA players have opted to take their talents to the other side of the Atlantic and sign for bigger bucks overseas. Max Blau of Grantland spoke with several players who have plied their craft in Europe or Asia and found mixed reviews. Guard Chris Douglas-Roberts spent last season in Europe with uncertainty surrounding the NBA season and gave the experience a thumbs up. “I lived in a different culture for a whole year. I met great people from all sides of the world,” Douglas-Roberts said. “I can actually say I lived a year in Italy. Guys from my neighborhood in the west side of Detroit cannot say that." Here's more from around the Association..
- Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times notes the radical jump in shooting percentage Lakers offseason signee Jodie Meeks has experienced under new coach Mike D'Antoni. He's connecting on 43.8% of his field goals and 50% of his three-point attempts since D'Antoni took over, but shot just 28.6% from the floor and 22.7% from long distance over his first nine games.
- The budget proposed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell doesn't include the $150MM that officials from the City of Virginia Beach were seeking to assist with the construction of a new arena, reports Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee. The governor's spokesman said further study is required before the state commits to funding the arena, which would ostensibly become the new home of the Kings.
- When compared to the max contracts of big men such as Brook Lopez, Pau Gasol, and Roy Hibbert, Bulls big man Joakim Noah looks like an especially good value at $12MM, tweets Mark Deeks of ShamSports.
With an eye toward next spring's deadline to relocate for 2013/14, the Maloof family, who own the Kings, are studying their options, as Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee details. George Maloof, who has reportedly met with the Virginia governor and Virginia Beach mayor, is "particularly intrigued" with the proposed arena deal in Virginia Beach. Either the Maloofs or a family representative have spoken recently with officials in Seattle, San Diego, Kansas City and St. Louis, Voisin reports.
On the court, the team's dispirited play could cost basketball president Geoff Petrie his job "within weeks," Voisin writes. Petrie, the longest-tenured personnel chief in the league, is in the final season of his contract. Even if he's let go, coach Keith Smart is likely to stay, given his support from the Maloofs, Voisin notes.
While brothers Joe and Gavin cling to the belief that Sacramento can work, George Maloof is the leading voice within the family in favor of a move, according to Voisin. The family is united in its refusal to sell the team, which makes it somewhat more likely the team will stay, since investor Chris Hansen would likely outbid all other suitors and deliver the team to Seattle. The refusal of the Maloofs to sell could prompt Hansen and Seattle to look elsewhere for a team.
Voisin also provides detail on a local group trying to secure $120MM to $150MM in financing for a renovation of the existing Sleep Train Arena. The Bee scribe calls upon the Maloofs to overcome their fears of another public relations misstep and speak candidly about the future of the franchise, believing public trust and support of the Kings in Sacramento can't be rekindled until that happens.
The latest update on Virginia Beach's arena proposal comes from Dale Kasler, Tony Bizjak, and Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee. According to the Bee report, the arena proposal would include commitments of $150MM from the state of Virginia, $195MM from the city of Virginia Beach, and just $35MM from Comcast-Spectator. Part of that cost would be put toward relocating a professional sports team, presumably the Sacramento Kings, to Virginia Beach.
Given that the proposal calls for 90% public funding, it's already drawing opposition from some public officials, according to the Bee report — city councilman Bill DeSteph suggested that Virginia Beach "can't afford" to put $195MM into the project.
As we wait to see if Virginia Beach's arena plan continues to move forward, here are a few more notes from around the Pacific Division:
- Rob McAllister of Cowbell Kingdom is skeptical that Virginia Beach is really a viable relocation option for the Kings, contending that the Maloofs are playing the city in order to boost the value of the franchise.
- Chauncey Billups' return to the Clippers lineup was timely, writes Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game, who says Billups helped quell a locker-room revolt last season and could be instrumental in convincing Chris Paul to remain long-term with the Clips.
- Young Warriors players like Jeremy Tyler and Kent Bazemore could be shuttled back and forth between the NBA and the D-League this season, given the proximity of the team's Santa Cruz affiliate, writes Carl Steward of the Oakland Tribune.
- Making his case for why the Lakers should trade Pau Gasol, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News writes that it's "becoming obvious that the rumor mill may know something the Lakers and Gasol don’t seem to know — he would be better off elsewhere."
Microfracture surgery carries a worrisome stigma for NBA players, with guys like Penny Hardaway, Chris Webber, and Greg Oden having undergone the procedure on their knees in the past. However, in revealing that Andrew Bogut underwent microfracture surgery on his ankle this year, Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times cautions that Bogut's situation is different.
According to Thompson, the microfracture aspect wasn't the major part of Bogut's surgery, and simply addressed a "minor" cartilage issue. The original timetable for Bogut's return took into account the procedure, and while the Warriors had hoped that timetable had accelerated, the big man's latest setback suggests he won't be back at full strength until 2013.
Here are a few more notes from around the Pacific Division:
- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni scoffed at speculation that Pau Gasol isn't a fit for his system, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News details. "I don't see how a player as smart as he is, as talented as he is and efficient as he is, doesn't fit in anybody's schemes," D'Antoni said. "I got to reevaluate myself if I can't play with Pau Gasol. Come on. He's won two championships."
- Tyreke Evans is off to a good start in a new role for the Kings, and coach Keith Smart doesn't believe the strides Evans has made are the result of his playing for a contract. Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee has the details.
- According to WAVY-TV 10 sports director Bruce Rader, plans for a new arena in Virginia Beach have taken another step forward. Rader reports that Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms will ask city council for permission to request $150MM from the state of Virginia to help with construction costs and relocation costs for a professional sports team, which Rader assumes will be the Sacramento Kings.
- Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty provides his own take on the Virginia Beach news, noting that even if all of Rader's details are accurate, there are still plenty of roadblocks the project must overcome.
Steve Nash said he's "thrilled, but definitely shocked" by Mike D'Antoni's hiring as Lakers coach, and expressed a level of disappointment about not getting to play for Phil Jackson, as Sam Amick of USA Today chronicles. "Well I mean, of course. In some ways, I thought it was Phil, and so I was geared up for that, and excited in a totally different respect because of his experience and success, and particularly here with this organization," Nash said. "That would have been a whole different circumstance that I would've been excited for as well. But I'm back with Mike and thrilled." We have plenty more on D'Antoni, his new team, and their Pacific Division rivals right here.
- Kobe Bryant expressed sentiments similar to Nash's, and said he and his teammates all believed Jackson would be the next coach, notes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
- D'Antoni laid out the expectations for his team, telling Mason & Ireland of ESPNLA 710 radio, "If we're not at least in the hunt, a serious hunt, then I've failed as a head coach. I'm comfortable with that," as ESPNLA's Ramona Shelburne documents. D'Antoni also indicated he planned to reach out to Nate McMillan about joining his staff.
- Warriors center Andrew Bogut will be out longer than the team's original seven-to-10 day projection, and might not return before January, according to Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group. It's unlikely he'll return before December as he nurses his surgically repaired left ankle, Thompson says.
- Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms confirmed a meeting recently took place between him and a representative of an unnamed NBA team, writes Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee. According to other reports, the representative was Kings co-owner George Maloof. The mayor said the team believes the area is a "good market."