With the Kings closing out a wild week and escaping this increasingly fluid sale/arena/Sacramento/Seattle ordeal with a long trip, the time felt right for some impressions, insights and observations.
The team is in a mess. No passing, no chemistry, no clue. Even at his age, and despite his extra pounds, Mayor Kevin Johnson is easily the area's best point guard.
The question that follows coach Keith Smart from city to city: With the Kings heading toward another NBA lottery appearance, why not develop Jimmer Fredette? The former BYU star has shown progress, energized fans and provided big moments, and, unlike Aaron Brooks, is under contract for another season.
Former Memphis Grizzlies president Andy Dolich cautions NBA fans already celebrating in Seattle. "Ron Burkle is the type of serious businessman that other owners and David Stern would look at in a very positive way," said Dolich, now a sports business consultant in the Bay Area. "Clearly, if you add a new control partner with deep resources to a local investors group and a clear arena plan to keep the team in Sacramento? Who can logically say no? There will be shin burns and raspberries before this is over."
So when exactly did the Maloofs become so hot to sell anyway? The family has been approached by wannabe NBA owners several times throughout their ownership, and, according to my sources, they received a $425 million offer for the club as recently as last year.
While Las Vegas-based George Maloof Jr., has always seemed receptive to selling or relocating, Joe, Gavin and matriarch Colleen Maloof remained insistent about retaining their franchise even during the worst of their economic times. The family dynamic changed in early December, however, when the Chris Hansen/Steve Ballmer Seattle group came up with an estimated $525 mil- lion proposal. Joe and Gavin haven't been seen at Sleep Train Arena since.
My main gripe with the Maloofs? If their finances forced them to sell their franchise, that's fine. The economy has chewed up more than a few families and businesses these past few years. But before privately negotiating a sale with the Hansen/Ballmer group that fully intends to relocate the team to Seattle, Joe and Gavin should have informed the Sacramento public in their own words of their plight and their plans. That would have been an honorable approach. Give Sac a chance for a pre-emptive strike. That one stumps me.
Former Kings guard Kevin Martin, who is flourishing in his sixth-man role with the Oklahoma City Thunder, approached Johnson during a dead-ball situation Friday night, clenched his fist, and said, "K.J., keep fighting."
Kings television analyst Jerry Reynolds, who in his 27 seasons with the organization has done everything except pop the popcorn, joined the team as Phil Johnson's second assistant in time for the team's move to Sacramento in 1985-86. The men's basketball coach at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., during the Kings' final year there, Reynolds often voluntarily worked out the players. "They worked out in our gym. I didn't want to just sit there (laugh)."
If not for his outbursts, suspensions and body language, DeMarcus Cousins could have presented a great case for an All-Star berth. His turnovers and shot selection remain issues, but he is producing more consistently and showing something new almost every night.
James Johnson has overcome his dreadful opening months and emerged as a valuable reserve, but, taking a tip from Cousins, he would be even more effective if he lost about 15 pounds.
Finally, before the sale/arena situation intensfied, Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie hoped to be active before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. Good luck with that.