The news keeps coming- Maloofs told to stay put.

Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee continued their fine reporting, dropping this little tid bit on our door step this morning:

The Kings owners expressed appreciation for local businesses that have pledged $10 million in sponsorship support for next year, but also shared concerns about whether their finances can withstand several years of waiting for a new arena to be built, and whether Sacramento will be able to come up with an arena plan that is financially feasible, given past failures. NBA officials, in turn, told the Maloofs to stay in Sacramento.

While the Maloofs concerns might be legitimate, the City of Sacramento has delivered not only $10+ million in new corporate sponsorships, but also Comcast, who is ready to renegotiate the teams television deal.  Owners of the leagues lowest pay last season, the Kings come into this off-season with a cap figure of $29 million, half of last years NBA $58 million soft cap.  Poised to make a splash during free agency or through trade and armed with another top lottery pick, the team on the floor is getting closer to competing for a playoff spot after four or five years of rebuilding.

The Bee’s Ailene Voisin, known to have a close relationship with members of the Maloof family, blogged about some of the possibilities this morning as well:

I also continue to hear that diverging opinions exist within the family – some wanting to sell, others determined to retain ownership even if that means returning to Sacramento and figuring out a way to handle the situation from a p.r. standpoint. Ultimately, this is Joe and Gavin’s deal.

This is the first we’ve heard that the Maloofs might consider selling, even if we don’t know who said it.  With billionaire Ron Burkle waiting in the wings, there is no telling where this story will lead next, but a few questions need to be asked.

First up, are the Maloofs still welcome in Sacramento?  Certainly, they haven’t won any fans over with their back room dealings in Anaheim and they are close to overplaying their hand to the point where they are becoming who Clay Bennett is to the people of Seattle.

Can the Maloofs afford to be NBA owners any longer- whether in a small market or a big market?  This is something that only Maloofs and their accountant can answer.  I won’t venture a guess into their personal finances, but I have been told by a source that their family fortune is still intact.  What that means is anyone’s guess.

Possibly the biggest question that still remains, will they be willing partners or can they be willing partners with the City of Sacramento to get a new sports and entertainment built?  If not, they need to walk away now.  Any arena talk will require both public and private financing money and eager participants willing to spend.  The fact that the deal in Anaheim is on public record is not going to help the Maloofs in their attempts to get a great deal in Sacramento.  Last year they were looking at 100% of all parking and concessions for a new building as part of the convergence plan, but after the Anaheim deal, they might be lucky to get half of that, although for 365 days, not the 41 night promised down south.

These are questions the NBA needs to ask before they green light an extension in Sacramento.  If the thought of losing the Sacramento fan base is powerful enough to block a move, then the thought of rotting it to the core with owners that have no interest in being part of the solution has to be considered.




James Ham

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