Kevin Johnson still busting it to keep Kings in Sacramento

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While the NBA labor strife seems to suck the life out of all thins NBA, Mayor Kevin Johnson is trying hard to keep the NBA alive in Sacramento. By next March the city needs to have taken big steps toward building a new arena in Sacramento or the Kings are Anaheim bound.

The biggest stumbling block to any new arena — and what killed off plans for new buildings in Sacramento before — was how to pay for it. Johnson is set to release a report Thursday on how Sacramento can pay for an arena through a “public/private partnership.”

Johnson spoke with the USA Today about that report.

We’re going to release a report that shows a menu of options on the public financing side. We looked at 30 different things. We’re narrowing it down to 10 or nine or eight.

We’ve done our due diligence with experts looking at it. We’re programming with the (Kings owners Joe and Gavin) Maloofs, the NBA, all the interested parties. We’re actually doing it very transparent so on Sept. 8 they’ll see the options. … Then we’ll take the next two or three months to solidify the financing model. We’ll solidify some of the public financing options. We’ll try to solidify the private equity side. The arena will be a publicly owned entity, and the Kings will be a tenant.

Getting public financing will be the trick. Johnson did not say what the split will be (public vs. private) and said the report will lay out a variety of options on how to get there. He also said this will be a publicly-owned building, which could be a big revenue boost for the city eventually. But that is a big mountain to climb — they need to convince the public that in this economy spending money on a new arena is a good investment for the city. Johnson is doing grass roots meetings to get his point across. But that is the big challenge, make no mistake.

Whatever the public financing mechanism, it will not be a broad based sales tax (as voters approved in Oklahoma City). Instead this likely will be a targeted fee on tickets at the arena — if you go to an event there, you pay a little extra to help cover building bills.

But there is no easy sell, no easy plan in this economy. That said, you can’t fault the former Suns point guard for his hustle. You never could.

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.