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Questions about television deal cast some doubt on Kings move

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It’s still a long shot the Kings stay in Sacramento — in the end you are asking a bunch of entrepreneurial, rich capitalists to vote against one of their own moving his business to a place he can (theoretically) make more money. It’s hard to get them to vote no.

But they may be getting close.

For the next two days Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett and league counsel Harvey Benjamin will be in Sacramento checking out the claims Mayor Kevin Johnson made to the NBA’s Board of Governors. Specifically, that there is a lot more money out there in Sacramento if the team stays. David Stern talked about roughly $9 million more in sponsorship and ticket sales (Johnson told the media $7 million).

But the bigger part of the picture is that the Anaheim end of the deal may not be all it is cracked up to be, reports Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated.

While the outcome is far from certain here, there are strong indications that the Maloof family, which owns the Kings, is facing enough opposition to the move to force it back to Sacramento. The Maloofs have already been pushed into two overtimes, as the original April 18 deadline to file for relocation was extended twice and now sits at May 2….

Specifically, a source with knowledge of the proposal revealed that the television rights riches that had long been seen as a major motivating factor for the Maloofs aren’t quite as lucrative as they had hoped. And while it had been assumed they would attempt to fill the programming void left by the Lakers at Fox Sports West due to their recent megadeal with Time Warner that starts in 2012, two sources said that is not the case.

The plan as presented in New York included a possible partnership worth $20 million annually with KDOC, an Orange County-based, independent television station that is co-owned by the very man working so hard to make this move happen. Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli, who operates the Honda Center where the Maloofs’ team would play and has already committed $50 million through city bonds to help cover their cost of relocation, reportedly teamed with Bert Ellis to pay $149.5 million for the station in 2006.

KDOC is a minor player on the Southern California television scene. It shows things like old “Andy Griffith Show,” “All in the Family” and “Barney Miller” reruns. It’s Thursday night prime-time lineup (tonight) is a “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” rerun, followed by “Star Trek: The Next Generation” then an original “Star Trek” series episode (the one where they try to court martial Kirk).

If this television deal is worth about $20 million, then it is not the monster deal Kings move supporters had touted, which we had been told was well upwards of $30 million. The Kings currently make $11 million on their television deal in Sacramento, according to Amick. The average team is rumored to make about $20 million on its television deal, but if you’re moving to the second largest television market in the country do you expect and average deal?

In the end it’s not about a television deal — NBA Commissioner David Stern in a press conference last week made it very clear it is about the building. Current Power Balance (former Arco) Arena just doesn’t cut it and Stern left no doubt what he thought of the structure. While Anaheim’s Honda Center is nearly two decades old and needs work — from the players’ locker rooms and a practice court to the media facilities — it has far more luxury suites and a large corporate base outside the building to snap those up. (Even if there are questions about how much of that luxury suite money flows to the Maloofs in the deal.)

If the mayor and Sacramento officials can’t convince the NBA that a new stadium is around the corner, then they will have a very hard time retaining the Kings.

But past franchise moves — like the Sonics leaving Seattle to become the Oklahoma City Thunder — essentially got a rubber stamp from the Board of Governors. The fact that the deadline has twice been extended to allow further negotiations and investigation shows not everyone with the NBA is comfortable with the deal.

Odd are it still goes through, but for Kings fans there is hope.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.