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.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?