ORLANDO - Trying to convince one final Maloof brother appears to be keeping Sacramento arena negotiations moving this afternoon at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando.
Joe and Gavin Maloof were upbeat and walked with smiles on their faces as the three brothers grabbed diet cokes and a few bag of chips after the first round of discussions.
“We are going to stay positive and do the best we can,” Joe Maloof said.
Getting George to sign off appears to be the final piece to the puzzle. One of the worst kept secrets is George’s hesitancy to keep the Kings in Northern California. He showed little emotion as he walked down the hall.
Behind closed doors however, it seems George is showing good faith in the negotiation process.
Mayor Kevin Johnson said that all three of the Maloofs answered “yes” when asked if the Kings’ owners legitimately want to remain in California’s capital.
“I felt whether (George) wanted to be here or not, I needed to be able to ask him in the room,” Johnson said to reporters during the meeting break. “Because if you have a gap…and that gap is just an excuse to go somewhere else, let’s move on. They all said they wanted to be here.”
Joe Maloof confirmed Johnson’s statement and added the family has remained committed to Sacramento.
“Always have been, we have been here 14 years. It is not like we have been coming and going,” Joe said from the Waldorf Astoria gift shop.
If the sides were too far apart, talks likely would have broken off. But the engagement from both sides reveals that each is willingly working toward a deal that would lead to the construction of a new $387 million Sacramento arena.
NBA Commissioner David Stern took time off to attend the All-Star Game at the Amway Center, but said before leaving, “I agreed not to lock the door but it was tempting.”
If a deal is not done after the game is over, Stern plans on rejoining negotiations.
Weekly contributor/columnist Rob McAllister is in Orlando for the 2012 NBA All-Star festivities. Follow him on Twitter for constant updates from the Sunshine State.