The NBA’s Anaheim Kings? Come, connect the dots with us.

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With the latest stadium deal now dead in Sacramento, it doesn’t take much to get people in certain other markets dreaming of the NBA in their home town. Pictures of DeMarcus Cousins dominating in the paint and Tyreke Evans getting treatment for plantar fasciitis in their city fill the minds of young children with NBA dreams.

Along those lines, interesting article in the Orange Country Register Monday connecting the dots between the Sacramento Kings owners, Joe and Gavin Maloof, and the Honda Center in Anaheim. Or the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

The relocation rumors revved up again Friday when Bloomberg News Service reported that two private investment firms are negotiating to acquire a controlling interest in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, also owned by the Maloofs, after the family violated its loan covenants.

If the Maloofs are having significant financial problems — the Sacramento Bee reports that in 2009 the family sold its original beer distributorship in New Mexico for more than $100 million and that there also were staff layoffs in the Kings organization and at The Palms — then perhaps there is a greater sense of urgency to move the franchise to a market with better demographics, more potential corporate sponsors and an NBA-ready arena.

That’s where Anaheim comes in. If the Maloofs decide to move the Kings — or are forced to sell a team struggling on the court (NBA-worst 8-25 record) and struggling at the gate (29th out of 30 in home attendance) — Anaheim and San Jose are believed to be the most likely destinations because they both have NBA-quality arenas and waiting billionaires to help them overcome financial obstacles.

The billionaire in San Jose is Larry Ellison, he of Oracle and trying to buy the Warriors and Hornets.

In Anaheim that is Henry Samueli, the owner of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and the guy booking the Honda Center. He is one of the co-founders of Broadcom and while his net worth has taken a tumble in this economy he is still worth an estimated $1.7 billion according to Forbes. Which wouldn’t suck.

Samueli has said he would love an NBA team in the building. He helps the Maloofs out financially with a partial ownership stake, they get a good arena deal at the Honda Center and… there are some dots.

We’re a long way from being able to connect all of them. The financial situation of the Maloofs may be overstated, for one. Times are not good in Vegas but we don’t know the details.  More importantly, at least publicly the Maloofs are not trying to move out of Sacramento.

But if the time comes — and it might — those dots might start to fill in.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.