David Stern says ball in Sacramento’s court now

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Put up or shut up.

David Stern is too much the diplomat to put it like that, but it was the gist of his comments in a Monday conference call discussing the decision by the Maloof brothers not to seek relocation from Sacramento to Anaheim.

Couching everything in words of praise for Sacramento fans and their outpouring of support, and for Mayor Kevin Johnson’s plan and energy, Stern echoed what the Maloof brothers said earlier in the day — if there is not a stadium deal well along the road to done by next March 1, the Kings will be free to leave.

And that could be back to Anaheim: “I think that Anaheim is in the future of the NBA,” Stern said.

Sacramento, your move.

Stern added that as of right now nobody really knows how this new stadium will be financed. So, there’s that little detail. In an interview with reporters earlier in the day George Maloof sounded like they would not be putting up cash into any plan. Getting any public money will be nearly impossible.

The NBA is going to play fair — they are sending a team of nine people from the NBA offices to work “in every aspect” of the Kings business, including sponsorships, ticket sales and media relations.

The reason is likely to mend relationships, according to Tom Ziller of SB Nation’s Sactown Royalty. Right now, there is not a lot of trust or love between the Maloofs and the city they tried to ditch. Fans have questions about if the Maloofs have enough money to be viable NBA owners — Stern said they do — and their commitment to making this work. The Maloofs told Stern they would try. Even so the NBA sends in people to make sure this gets a fair shake.

Two other interesting comments from Stern.

One came when he asked what was different about Sacramento than Seattle, another failed mid-sized market that could not keep an NBA team.

Stern talked about “hostility” from the Seattle mayor and a lack of the state legislature to help out in any way. With Sacramento both the mayor and local state senator are leading the charge to keep the team.

“Night and day,” Stern said.

Secondly, he had to tie the collective bargaining agreement into the Kings plans.

Stern said that an agreement needs to be in place with the players that allows a market like Sacramento to be competitive. Which they were a decade ago under this basic economic agreement, but whatever, we get the idea. But his point about fairness ties back to revenue sharing as well — if the Kings are making $11 million a year on their local television deal and the Lakers near $200 million, then without revenue sharing (teams currently do not share local television dollars) then everything else basically will be moot.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.