Phil Jackson shares new perspective on Sacramento Kings’ near move to Seattle
In an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, the Hall-of-Fame head coach says that he wasn’t surprised that the Kings avoided relocation to Seattle and ended up staying in Sacramento. Last year, Jackson admitted in an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show that he had an agreement to join a new incarnation of the Seattle SuperSonics owned by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen.
Jackson claims he had “inside information” on why the relocation attempt fell through.
“I was (convinced it would happen) until I was told there was that opening in the buyout where somebody else could come in and purchase it from a local group,” Jackson said of the sales agreement between the Maloofs and Hansen in a 45-minute interview with Amick. “And being a guy who likes (Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star) Kevin Johnson — even though we had a lot of run-ups against Kevin when he was playing — I highly respect what he tried to do and how he was able to save that for the community. Whether that’s a good deal or not is still to be determined.”
The city of Sacramento has a tentative agreement to finance $258 million of a roughly $450-million project to build a new downtown arena for the Kings and other entertainment events. Jackson, like some who question the use of public subsidy for the construction of sports stadiums and arenas, appeared skeptical of Sacramento’s plans.
“Can they sustain a team?” Jackson responded when asked to clarify in what sense would building a new Kings arena be deemed a good deal. “Will it be a sustainable thing? They’re charged with getting an arena. The NBA has (said), have them get a plan, get an arena. And they provided a plan. But we know how hard the Maloofs had to work to try and get one and couldn’t get it done.”
The Maloofs walked away from two potential deals to build a new arena for the Kings. In 2012, the city of Sacramento, arena operator AEG and the former Kings owners came to terms on a deal to build a new arena at the Downtown Railyards at NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando. However not long after, the Maloofs backed out of the plan despite the league offering to front their portion of the financing. They also abandoned a 2006 initiative that would have raised taxes to fund the construction of a new downtown arena if successfully approved by voters.
In their 14 years as owners of the franchise, the Maloofs also attempted to relocate the Kings from Sacramento multiple times. They reportedly flirted with moving the team to Las Vegas and had conversations about relocating the franchise to Virginia Beach. In 2011, they backed off an attempt to move the team to Anaheim after the the city of Sacramento proved it still had the wherewithal to support the franchise.
After the NBA blocked the franchise’s relocation to Seattle last year, the Maloofs sold the Kings to the current ownership group led by Vivek Ranadivé at an enterprise value of $535 million.