City of Kansas City

Kansas City, Las Vegas May Battle For Expansion Team

Seattle is considered a lock whenever the NBA decides to expand, and Kansas City and Las Vegas could be fighting for the other new franchise, according to Jabari Young of CNBC. Young breaks down the assets that each city could offer and notes that finding billionaires to finance the bids will be crucial.

Commissioner Adam Silver discussed the possibility of expansion at a press conference in December, but said it’s “not on the front burner.” The NBA isn’t expected to consider adding teams until after the 2021/22 season at the earliest.

Former Grizzlies president Andy Dolich, who helped move the team from Vancouver to Memphis, believes the league will try to create a “horse race” among cities leading up to expansion. He says the components the NBA is looking for can be described as A-B-C-D.

“The A is avidity: the market you’re picking has to be an avid sports market,” Dolich said. “The B is simple: Who is your billionaire? If you don’t have your billionaire, you don’t have anything. The C is the community: the elected officials, the leading businesses who are going to support you and the fan base. The D (destination) is where are you playing? The NBA is not playing in yesterday’s arena. Those are the four key parts.”

As the former home of the Kings, Kansas City already has an NBA history, Young notes, and Mayor Quinton Lucas gained the league’s attention when he offered to serve as a temporary location for the Raptors. The 19,000-seat T-Mobile Center is already in place to house an expansion franchise, but there’s no obvious person to bid for the team.

“I just don’t know who would be the owner, at least locally,” said Kathy Nelson, CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission. “Financially, what does that ownership team look like? That’s the billionaire-dollar question. It’s not a million dollar. It’s a billion dollars.”

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a minority owner of baseball’s Kansas City Royals and may be willing to get involved with an NBA team. Nelson’s committee has identified other potential investors, but no one has been pegged as a majority stakeholder.

That’s also a concern with Las Vegas, Young adds. The city already has a WNBA franchise and an established relationship with the NBA as host of the Summer League. There’s a 20,000-seat arena that serves as the home of the NHL’s Golden Knights.

However, there are concerns about Las Vegas because so much of the city’s economy depends on tourism. That has taken a hit due to COVID-19, and the NBA isn’t sure if a franchise can survive there if the tourism decline drags on.

“It just reinforces the importance of the ownership,” said Patrick Rishe, sports business director at Washington University in St. Louis. “You’re going to need a very strong ownership group. The market that has the most financially viable ownership group, that will trump any other consideration.”

Atlantic Notes: Paul, Fizdale, Knicks, Raptors

Former Knicks coach David Fizdale believes the team wouldn’t be a good fit for Chris Paul in a potential trade, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Fizdale, who coached the team for 104 games over two seasons, argued the fit would be better for the Knicks than it would be for Paul — especially with Paul still being without a championship entering his 16th NBA season.

“I think the Knicks have to be open to a lot of different things,’’ Fizdale said. “Would he be a great fit for them? Absolutely. I think he would fit those kids — Mitchell Robinson going to the rim, they get more spacing, more shooting. Absolutely, he would fit. The big stage. He doesn’t get sick [with COVID-19].”

“[But] for him, where he is at his career, I don’t think it’s a good fit for him and what he’s trying to do.’’

Paul is coming off his first All-Star season since the 2015/16 campaign, averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists and 31.5 minutes per game with the Thunder. For the Knicks, the team must decide between pursuing a star player and continuing to slowly build their young core — a decision that’ll be made by general manager Scott Perry and president Leon Rose.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News examines how the Knicks could improve their roster before next season, listing four ideas for potential trades. New York accrued just a 21-45 record last year (fourth-worst in the Eastern Conference).
  • The Raptors have a number of questions to answer this offseason, including where the team will play during the 2020/21 season, Damien Cox of The Toronto Star writes. Toronto also has a number of key players set to reach free agency later this month, including Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka.
  • Raptors officials visited Nashville, Tennessee last week to investigate another potential home for the team next season, Adam Vingan of The Athletic writes. With Canada closing the border except for essential travel, Toronto likely needs to find a temporary arena located in the United States for most or all of the upcoming campaign. Kansas City, Missouri and Tampa Bay, Florida are also in the running to host the team, Vingan relays. Despite conducting due-diligence, the club is reportedly holding out hope that it will be able to play in Toronto next season.

Kansas City Destined For NBA Franchise?

Kansas City is on the short list of cities to get an NBA franchise, a league executive told NBA scout Jarrett Sutton (Twitter link). The unnamed executive cited multiple sources in his conversation with Sutton.

“Kansas City will get an NBA team at some point. … Just a matter of time. Seattle and KC, to me, are most valuable markets for league expansion when it makes sense.”

Seattle has long been considered as the likely landing spot should an NBA franchise move or if the league decides to expand. There’s been talk of Seattle getting back a franchise virtually since the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.

The league even plans to hold an exhibition game there next season. The city has already filed for an NHL franchise.

There hasn’t been much buzz about Kansas City becoming an NBA city, even though it has a 19,000-seat arena, the Sprint Center, which was built in 2007.

It’s been more than three decades since the city had an NBA team. The Kings bolted for Sacramento in 1985 after the franchise relocated from Cincinnati in 1972. The Kings played a majority of those seasons at Kemper Arena. Mike D’Antoni, Mike Woodson, Nate Archibald and Ernie Grunfeld were among the players to don a Kings uniform.

The Kansas City Knights of the American Basketball Association were the last pro basketball team in the city, as Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports notes. That league shut down operations in 2005.

Odds & Ends: Expansion, Wizards, Turner

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.

Latest On Kings, Potential Move

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.