Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings

Report: Kings to stay in Sacramento next season; owners say no decision yet

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UPDATE: 8:03 pm: The Maloof brothers, the owners of the Kings, are denying the report. Sort of. Co-owner Joe Maloof spoke with the Associated Press and said they are still thinking about it.

Maloof told The Associated Press that no decision has been made and he’s “as anxious as anybody” to find out if Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promises for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena.

“There’s been no decision made,” Maloof said. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re still looking at our options.”

The Maloofs have clearly wanted to make this move and reportedly were very frustrated that they didn’t get the rubber stamp they expected last week. But there were a lot of questions about both what was available in Sacramento and the details of their agreement in Anaheim (keep reading).

The Maloofs may not have decided if they want to apply for the move (they have until May 2 to file the application), but they still need a majority of the other owners to approve the deal. And that seems to what have dissolved. They could put that to the test, but the offer from Sacramento seems to be real enough to have other owners saying the city should have another year to make it a reality.

7:00 pm: Next season (whenever that is) teams will still travel to Sacramento to take on the Kings.

The move seemed a foregone conclusion a couple of weeks ago, but plans to move the Kings to Anaheim have crumbled in the wake of a new financial plan and the start of another stadium development effort in Sacramento. Behind a wave of public and private support, the Kings reportedly will stay put.

For now.

NBA officials have told the Los Angeles Times the news.

NBA officials now expect the Kings to play next season in Sacramento, league executives told The Times on Friday.

Whether the team, which was about to seek permission to move to Honda Center in Anaheim, stays in Sacramento beyond next season remains to be decided.

That will depend on city and county officials and local businesses redeeming the pledges made by Sacramento Mayor Kevin before the NBA’s relocation committee last week in New York, including support for a new downtown arena.

This would not be leaking out if Johnson and Sacramento officials did not impress Clay Bennett (the Oklahoma City owner and head of the relocation committee). What he says will sway a lot of owners, and apparently told Johnson that he delivered on what was promised.

Johnson was, by all reports, extremely impressive in a presentation to the NBA Board of Governors in New York last week, bringing in $9.2 million in new sponsorships and offering a better plan to get a new building for the team. Add that to Comcast officials saying they would be willing to take another look at and increase their television package with the Kings and there were hard financial reasons to stay.

The officials agree that there was no problem with Anaheim’s offer, or any questions about Honda Center’s suitability. Nevertheless, when Sacramento’s bid came in, Anaheim became, as one official put it, “immaterial.”

Despite what league officials told the Times, the financials that were made public about the move to Anaheim — including the lease for the Honda Center where the building operator got a healthy percentage of luxury box revenue and the television deal on a barely-existent channel in the Los Angeles market that would pay less than the Clippers get — made it all seem like a house of cards. It felt more like owners trying to deal with personal debt issues more than looking out for the best interest of the franchise.

But in the end, it all comes back to the building. Former ARCO now Power Balance Arena is not an NBA building. Not any more.

If by next year this time the plans to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento are not much farther along — including financing being lined up — talk of the Kings being on the move will be back.

But for now they stay.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.