Here's today's look around the Association..
Phil Jackson appeared on the Dan Patrick Show (video link) this morning to promote his new book, to compare Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and to address a few more items of note. The Zen Master confirmed to Patrick that he doesn't intend to return to coaching, but did talk about another job he had discussed with the prospective Seattle ownership group. Here are a few highlights from Jackson's appearance:
On whether he would have been involved with a Seattle franchise had the Kings relocation been approved:
"I had an agreement with the guy that put the deal together for Seattle.... Chris Hansen. I thought he was dynamic, I thought he had great ideas. He went through the whole process of getting an arena. He did everything right, except win the franchise. But his vision I could buy into. I thought he had the right vision for a team. And he made basically the offer of take what you want to take as a job -- a consultant, if you want to be an owner, be a part-owner, work in the basketball operations side of it if you want to, or coach. It didn't matter to him. We talked about a number of things that would progress the team that was going to move, which was Sacramento, which is a team that has to improve to be a significant team that's going to stay in Sacramento."
On whether the Clippers have reached out to him:
"No, I've never had any contact with Clippers management."
On the best offer he has received recently:
"Well, the Brooklyn situation I think is a good situation.... That was coaching, basically. They wanted to know if I was still interested in coaching."
On whether he thinks Dwight Howard will re-sign with the Lakers:
"Would you, if you felt like your game wasn't going to be featured?"
We received word earlier this afternoon that head coach Vinny Del Negro will not be retained by the Clippers, and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com says (via Twitter) that one of the primary reasons for the decision was the fact that Chris Paul wasn't a fan of Del Negro. According to Berger (via Twitter), the star point guard didn't back the coach to management at season's end.
Here are a few more afternoon rumblings out of the Western Conference:
TUESDAY, 2:12pm: Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link) hears that the finance committee will vote on the sale of the Kings early this week, with an official vote by the full Board of Governors coming before the end of May.
MONDAY, 1:45pm: Ranadive doesn't formally own the NBA team yet, tweets Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee, pointing out that the team will move forward with the Maloofs' plan to send coach Keith Smart to the draft lottery. Windhorst has deleted his tweet from yesterday, so perhaps Johnson jumped the gun in saying that Ranadive had assumed control of the franchise. In any case, Ranadive and company remain on track to take over the Kings.
SUNDAY, 1:33pm: Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson says NBA owners have approved the sale of the Kings to the Sacramento-based group headed by Vivek Ranadive, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The league had been expected to make a formal announcement of the deal between the Maloof family and Ranadive's group this week, although it was thought that escrow would not close until the end of the month. In any case, Ranadive now has control of the franchise, according to Johnson.
There's usually a much longer gap between the time an agreement on a sale is reached and the point when the purchase becomes official. Last year, Robert Pera agreed to buy the Grizzlies in June, but didn't take control of the team until October 31st. An official announcement from the league has yet to come, but it's not entirely surprising the process was expedited this time around, since the league had a chance to thoroughly vet Ranadive's bid as it sorted out whether to allow the Kings to move to Seattle.
Johnson said earlier this week that the agreement had been "signed on both ends" and that the "money has been wired," so it looked like the green light from the league was the last step in the process. Ranadive was a relative late-comer in an effort that began in earnest in January, around the time the Maloofs reached a deal to sell the team to Seattle investor Chris Hansen and his partners. Johnson spearheaded the effort to put the group together, combining $1MM commitments from 20 Sacramento-area locals with the larger financial backing of deep-pocketed "whales," including Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle. Mastrov became the lead investor, but Burkle, an enemy of the Maloofs, proved a stumbling block, and as he faded from the picture, Ranadive took over the primary reigns of the bid.
The Sacramento group's final purchase price for the Kings is based on a full valuation of the team at $535MM, an NBA record and $10MM greater than Hansen's initial offer. The Maloofs' share is 65%, so that works out to a $347.75MM sum that's changing hands. Hansen and company upped their valuation of the club to $625MM, but ultimately lost out, spending more than $100MM on an ill-fated effort to buy the team.
The NBA's draft lottery is set to take place tonight, with the league's 14 non-playoff teams vying for a chance at the first overall pick and the opportunity to select a player from a crop of prospects that includes Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, and others.
The odds at landing the first overall pick are cited frequently, from the Magic's 25% all the way down to the Jazz's 0.5%. But what chance does each team have to land a top-three pick? Listed in the chart below are the odds each lottery team has at the first, second, and third overall picks, as well as each team's overall odds at landing in the top three.
For a third consecutive year, there aren't any Pacific Division teams in the Western Conference Finals, a dry spell that's never happened before. The Lakers are mostly responsible for that history of success, but the Suns have had their moments, too. For most of the city's time with an NBA team, Seattle was a part of the Pacific Division, and the SuperSonics were no stranger to playing for a berth in the Finals. With the league reportedly having approved the sale of the Kings to a Sacramento-based group, it looks like Seattle won't be an NBA destination for at least a while longer.
Here's a check on each of the five current Pacific Division teams as they try to climb their way back into contention:
Of the four NBA divisions that sent three teams to the postseason this year, only the Pacific doesn't have a team still in the hunt, following the eliminations of the Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors. Here's the latest from out west:
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
Earlier today, we learned that if the Kings don't keep Keith Smart as their head coach, they're expected to target Warriors assistant Michael Malone. After months of conjecture on the coaching carousel about big names like Phil Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Jerry Sloan, Malone now appears to be one of the most wanted men in the NBA. Here's more from the Pacific division..
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
A little more than 12 hours after we heard that Vivek Ranadive's Sacramento investment group and the Maloof family had struck an agreement to transfer ownership of the Kings, the city of Sacramento held a press conference today to formally announce the good news. Mayor Kevin Johnson praised the city for never giving up on the Kings, and also confirmed that Chris Hansen isn't involved in the deal, so he won't be a minority owner of the team (Twitter link via Chris Daniels of KING5). As the new ownership group prepares to officially take over the Kings, here's a number of other items related to the sale and to the team:
FRIDAY, 9:47am: Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson tells the Sacramento Bee that the purchase agreement has been "signed on both ends" and that the "money has been wired." While the deal still has to close, Johnson doesn't anticipate any roadblocks.
"We're hoping to get it all done within the next week or so and the Board of Governors will vote and I don't anticipate any surprises," Johnson said.
THURSDAY, 11:29pm: The Sacramento investment group led by Vivek Ranadive has reached an agreement with the Maloof family to buy the Kings, according to Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee. Bizjak reports that the deal is for an NBA-record valuation of $535MM, $10MM higher than the initial sale price on the Maloofs' agreement with Chris Hansen's Seattle group.
According to Bizjak, the agreement could be formally announced as soon as Friday, and will require approval by the NBA. Assuming the league approves the deal, which seems like a safe bet, escrow is expected to close at the end of May. The new group is expected to assume the Maloofs' entire 65% share of the club.
If the agreement between the current Kings owners and the prospective ownership group becomes official, it would be the end of a lengthy saga that pitted Sacramento and Seattle against one another in a fight for the Kings. Despite Hansen's Seattle group increasing their valuation of the franchise to $625MM, the league's owners voted 22-8 against relocating the Kings to Seattle on Wednesday, urging the Maloofs and Ranadive's group to try to negotiate a deal in the next 24 to 48 hours.
A source tells Bizjak that, after the league's owners voted down the Kings' relocation bid, the Maloofs were eager to "turn the page," and were happy to sell to an ownership group that would keep the team in Sacramento.