City of Seattle

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.

And-Ones: Seattle, Wilkins, Trash Talk, Lottery

Last week, we touched upon how the NBA is planning to hold a preseason game in Seattle next season, the first NBA game at KeyArena since the Sonics left after the 2007/08 season. Now, according to a report from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the ownership group that applied to bring the NHL to Seattle is leaving the door open for bringing an NBA franchise back to the city as well.

The Oak View Group, comprised of investment banker David Bonderman, longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke, and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is hoping to found the NHL’s 32nd team, and the NHL is reportedly likely to accept the bid. The OVG plans to begin remodeling KeyArena this October with the hope to begin play during the 2020/21 season.

As for the potential for an NBA franchise, Leiweke says, “The way we are going to structure all of our contractually obligated income is making sure there will be revenue upside built in should the NBA ever consider Seattle. We are committed to making sure the building, all of our contracts, all of our partnerships and all of our relationships, are done in a way that we can maximize value.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Having been waived by the Pacers earlier this season, Damien Wilkins has been a man on a mission in the G League, averaging 29.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG for the Greensboro Swarm this month. As Scott Agness of details, the 38-year-old Wilkins badly wants to finish the season on an NBA roster.
  • In an entertaining piece for, Tim MacMahon and Law Murray break down some of the unwritten rules of NBA trash talking.
  • Speaking of entertaining pieces, Andrew Sharp of lays out his idea for a end-of-season tournament featuring non-playoff teams that would replace the draft lottery and determine the order of the top 14 picks.
  • With a win over Puerto Rico this week, Team USA clinched a spot in the second round of the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup, per an AP report (link via USA Today). The next round of qualifying games begins in September.

Clark Crum contributed to this post.

NBA Planning Preseason Game In Seattle

The NBA will return to Seattle next preseason with a familiar face for Pacific Northwest fans, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee.

Kevin Durant, who spent his rookie season with the SuperSonics before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, will lead the Warriors against the Kings on October 6 at Key Arena, Voisin writes. It will be the first NBA game at the facility since the Sonics left after the 2007/08 season.

The Kings also have a connection with Seattle, as it appeared the team might move there when it was put up for sale five years ago. A deal to sell the team to a Seattle-based ownership group was reached in January of 2013, but it fell through when Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was able to assemble a group to keep the Kings from leaving.

Two months ago, Seattle’s City Council approved a proposed $650MM renovation of Key Arena in hopes of attracting an NBA or NHL franchise by the end of the decade. The refurbished arena will hold 18,350 spectators for NBA games and 17,150 for NHL games.

And-Ones: Ball Brothers, Seattle, Mexico, World Cup

LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball may end up playing together in Lithuania, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who report that the Ball brothers are in “serious discussions” with Prienu Vytautas. The Lithuanian team intends to decide within the next day or two whether to officially sign Lonzo Ball‘s two younger brothers, sources tell Wojnarowski and Givony.

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, who are looking to play together for a professional team after officially hiring an agent and forgoing their NCAA eligibility, likely wouldn’t get a chance to play many minutes in the Lithuanian (LKL) league, per ESPN’s report. According to Wojnarowski and Givony, the Ball brothers would likely see more action – perhaps 20 to 25 minutes per game – in the less competitive Baltic League. As Givony tweets, the pay for the Balls would almost certainly be minimal, and the small Lithuanian town of Prienai would hardly be a “glamorous” place to continue their careers.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • TNT’s David Aldridge is the latest reporter to examine the possibility of the NBA returning to Seattle. While the city looks like a good bet to be awarded an NHL franchise, the NBA and its team owners are less gung-ho about the idea of expansion, according to Aldridge, who notes that team owners wouldn’t want to further split the money from the league’s $24 billion TV deal.
  • In a separate – and interesting – piece for, Aldridge takes an in-depth look at the range of emotions experienced by NBA head coaches who get fired.
  • With the NBA making a concerted effort to grow its brand in Mexico, this season’s G League All-Star Game will be replaced by a contest that pits G League All-Stars against the Mexican national team, per The Associated Press.
  • FIBA officially announced on Monday that the 2023 Basketball World Cup will be staged in multiple countries, with Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines earning hosting rights..

And-Ones: Top International Leagues, Seattle, Ball Brothers

While the NBA as a league is as popular as ever, the gap between the best league in the world and the plethora of international options is shrinking. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla recently broke down the world’s top leagues in a must-read feature for any hoops fans curious about the basketball scene outside of the NBA.

Fraschilla ranks EuroLeague as the best non-NBA league. It’s the continent-wide league of top clubs from domestic leagues in countries like Spain and Turkey. The league is very financially stable, Fraschilla writes, noting that approximately 100 EuroLeague players are making as much or more money than the bottom 100 players in the NBA.

Fraschilla highlights Spain’s Liga ACB, the Turkish Basketball Super League and Russia’s VTB United League as the top pro leagues based in a single country.

Other leagues mentioned in the feature include Australia’s National Basketball League and the Chinese Basketball Association, both of which are growing in popularity of late.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • It’s official, Tim Leiweke‘s Oak View Group is investing to refurnish KeyArena in Seattle. Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports breaks down the latest in the pacific northwest city’s pursuit to reclaim an NBA franchise.
  • Professional basketball hasn’t always succeeded in Mexico. Most recently, Nathaniel Janowitz of ESPN writes, the Capitanes de Ciudad Mexico of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional have tried to win over hoops fans in the country’s capital.
  • Both LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball have an agent, Jeff Goodman of ESPN writes, so neither will be eligible to play college basketball. As Bleacher Report’s David Pick writes, their chances of playing in a competitive league overseas aren’t exactly great either.

Seattle Agrees To Key Arena Renovation Proposal

Seattle’s City Council passed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday that would allow for a proposed $650MM renovation of Key Arena, making the building ready for an NBA or NHL franchise by 2020,’s David Aldridge tweets.

The renovated Key Arena would hold 18,350 spectators for NBA games and 17,150 for NHL games. The city backed the renovation proposal of Oak View Group, headed by longtime sports executive/AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and entertainment mogul Irving Azoff, rather than billionaire Chris Hansen’s efforts to build a new arena, Aldridge adds (Twitter links).

This moves Seattle closer to being NBA-ready by 2020, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets.

After losing its franchise to Oklahoma City to 2008, Seattle has been considered a likely destination for expansion or relocation. Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that notion over the summer, saying Seattle “no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at.” However, the city needs a suitable arena to make that happen and the memorandum puts the wheels in motion.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Durant, McGee

The Lakers have no intention of taking Lonzo Ball out of the starting lineup anytime soon, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. The rookie guard has struggled mightily with his jump shot over the course of his first month in the league but the franchise remains committed to his development.

He’s our starting point guard,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “So there’s no discussion, no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench. Nah. He’s our starting point guard.

The much hyped Lakers point guard – who cut his hair earlier today(!) – has averaged 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game so far this season but is just .303 from the field and .230 from beyond the arc.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Among several excellent aspects of an interview with Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Warriors forward Kevin Durant spoke candidly about the Thunder and their move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. An under reported asset that the Bay Area offered Durant in free agency is a similarity to the Pacific Northwest town in which he broke into the league. “To be part of a franchise moving, no player, especially a rookie, expects that,” Durant said. “I didn’t even think that was in the cards. Obviously, I wasn’t in on the deal, nobody asked me any questions. So as long as we got to play somewhere, it was cool with me. I was 19, I didn’t know the effect a team moving had on fans or a city. As I got older, I realized how huge a team leaving a city is, how devastating that must have been for the fans. Every time we’d go to the West Coast, we’d see Seattle jerseys and you’d start to realize that was a huge, huge part of people’s lives.
  • A solid debut with his new franchise could boost Greg Monroe‘s trade value, Cody Cunningham of Phoenix’s official team site writes. The big man dropped 20 and 11 in his first game for the Suns since coming over alongside draft picks in the Eric Bledsoe trade.
  • The Warriors haven’t been featuring JaVale McGee heavily in their regular rotation, opting to play him only if matchups call for his length and athleticism. “You definitely have to humble yourself a little bit, just because we’re competitors. We want to play,” McGee told Mark Medina of The Mercury News. “But you can’t complain on a winning team. I understand if we were losing and I’m thinking, ‘I can help.’ But we’re a part of a winning system.”

And-Ones: Youth Movement, Asian Influence, Seattle

The current crop of NBA rookies is one of the best that hoops fans have seen in years, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders writes. The scribe cites Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum as two first-year players who’ve looked poised and dominant in significant roles out of the gates.

It’s not just a top-heavy class either, however, all of Kyle Kuzma, Lauri Markkanen and Donovan Mitchell have impressed over the course of their first months in the NBA.

The youth movement may not be limited to the 2017/18 season though. Marc Spears of The Undefeated recently profiled the 12 best collegiate players who could make an impact at the NBA level as early as next season, going so far as to declare that Michael Porter Jr. should have greater star power than anybody in the 2017 class.

There’s more around the league:

  • As the world economy shifts, more and more prominent Asian businesses and billionaires are looking to buy into the NBA. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune breaks down the trend that formally started when Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sold a 5% stake in the franchise to Lizhang Jiang.
  • While Tim Leiweke remains confident that he and his Oak View Group represent Seattle’s best chance of regaining an NBA franchise, it’s not necessarily going to happen as soon as some fans would hope. He spoke on the topic at length with Q13’s Bill Wixey.
  • The BIG3 will add retired point guard T.J. Ford to its ranks, an ESPN report says. The guard averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 assists per game over the course of 306 NBA starts in eight seasons.

Plans To Restore Seattle’s KeyArena Revealed

Details of a facility proposal that could bring the NBA back to the Pacific Northwest were presented to Seattle’s City Council today, Chris Daniels of King 5 writes, but don’t dust off that vintage Detlef Schrempf jersey just yet.

A press conference to discuss the occasion was scheduled for today but was promptly cancelled after the abrupt resignation of mayor Ed Murray following the latest in a series of sexual abuse allegations.

As Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes, given that Murray had been a been a strong proponent of the proposal to restore 45-year-old KeyArena, the mayoral vacancy could potentially open the door to other parties interested in providing a pro sports-ready venue.

Just last week we discussed how a Chris Hansen-led inevstor group similarly interested in reviving the spirit of the Sonics offered to repurpose KeyArena, but as a smaller scale venue after construction was completed on their own brand new facility in the Sodo District of town (where MLB’s Mariners and the NFL’s Seahawks play).

Shortly after that Hansen group offer was made public, however, a statement from Seattle’s Office of Economic Development said that they should have submitted a formal proposal months prior when the city specifically solicited them.

It was during this formal solicitation period, that Oak View Group, a Los Angeles-based sports development company spearheaded by former Raptors executive Tim Leiweke, did put forth a submission to renovate KeyArena, with intentions of housing both an NHL and an NBA franchise.

It’s at this point where things grow even more complicated.

Back in 2012, Hansen and his group actually came to an agreement with the city that they would build their new arena in the Sodo District but it was contingent on the NBA officially rewarding the city a franchise, which obviously has not happened at this point.

That pact expires in early December, an Associated Press report says, meaning that three months from now, the city will be officially free of their commitment to Hansen and thus eligible to vote on the Oak View Group proposal, which could see renovations on the 45-year-old building starting, possibly, as early as October 2018.

As Daniels explains in his King 5 article, the details of the Memorandum of Understanding revealed today lay out some of the financial obligations that the Oak View Group would have toward the city, the logistics of parking and how inevitable traffic problems could be mitigated.

Whether this all ends up happening, of course, is contingent upon the city voting to approve the proposal later this year. If the Oak View Group’s support weakens with Murray’s sudden absence, for example, we may see an opportunity for Hansen and company to sneak back into the picture.

Alas, as Stone writes, there appears to be a decent amount of inertia behind the Oak View Group’s proposal and “the heft of city politics still seem aligned” behind it.

Latest On Seattle’s Quest For An NBA Franchise

For much of the past half decade, a group of investors led by Chris Hansen has sought ways to build an arena in Seattle that could house an NBA team and possibly an NHL club as well. The group, however, has faced resistance, most recently from a city council that refused to grant it access to a city street necessary for construction in the Sodo District.

On Thursday, an Associated Press report broke news that Hansen’s group would also be willing to help rebuild and modernize KeyArena as a venue for concerts, after the construction on the new Sodo facility had been completed, that is.

From 1967 until 2008, KeyArena was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics and the building currently remains on a 74-acre plot in downtown as a multipurpose facility and the home of Seattle’s WNBA club.

Despite the fact that Hansen’s group is aggressively pursuing a franchise – they’ve already pivoted from seeking to use public money to privately financing the project – their plans of building a facility near those of the Seahawks’ and Mariners’ facilities would require the purchase of a portion of Occidental Avenue South.

As recently as May of 2016, however, Seattle city council voted against such an acquisition 5-4, some councilmembers steadfast against the idea of vacating a prominent, industrial city street in the name of supposed “gentrification.”

If the proposal to rebuild KeyArena was intended as an olive branch for city officials, it wasn’t taken as such. Almost immediately after issuing their proposal, Seattle’s Office of Economic Development shot them down, referring to a formal request for proposals that was held earlier in 2017.

If Hansen’s group wanted to modernize KeyArena, the office suggested, they should have formally proposed their plans when the city was requesting them. As things stand, a Los Angeles-based company already has a finalized draft to renovate KeyArena for $564MM with the intention of housing NBA and NHL teams there.

What does this mean for hoops fans hoping for another basketball franchise in the Pacific Northwest? Not much, directly at least.

In April of 2016, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Baker that a “shovel ready arena” wouldn’t hasten the league’s meticulous expansion process. More recently though, Silver told C.J. McCollum of the Players Tribune (yes, that one) in July 2017 that the league would inevitably start looking at growth of franchises.

Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at,” Silver told him.

Whether that hypothetical franchise suits up in a renovated version of KeyArena or somewhere in the middle of an industrial district slowly enveloped by sports facilities remains to be seen.