Sacramento coordinating effort to sell out new owners’ arena before they own it

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Remember hearing the stories about Kings fans and concerned Sacramento citizens trying to raise money for an arena when the Maloofs first announced their intention to move to Anaheim?

If not, go check out the award-winning documentary Small Market, Big Heart and soak up the story of the many different grassroots efforts that popped up to save their team.

These fans orchestrated sell-outs, sit-ins, and some of the younger ones even sold lemonade to get the message across to both the Maloofs and the NBA that Sacramento wanted to keep their team and would support it.

Time has shown that the Maloofs couldn’t afford to run an NBA franchise and that they weren’t ready to operate in good faith, making these efforts look something like William Wallace in Braveheart if he had a really bad case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Fortunately for Sacramento, the Maloofs are becoming less important by the day. They’re going to sell the team or face Armageddon from all angles, as they can’t afford a lame duck year in Sacramento on any level. Sources close to the ongoing relocation saga are convinced that there is no way they keep the team beyond this season.

All the family can do right now is hope that a bidding war between Sacramento and Seattle returns the highest possible dollar for the winning offer, and barring an unlikely antitrust lawsuit from the fledgling family that offer will be the one the NBA lets them take.

Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen has reportedly made offers between $500-525 million in what was characterized by initial reports to be a done deal, though PBT reported that no deal was imminent and so far there is no deal.

Sacramento’s offer likely starts to produce more money than Seattle’s offer for the Maloof family at about $425-450 million, and sources say Sacramento’s final offer is likely to break the NBA record for a franchise sales price ($450 million, Warriors).

This leaves Sacramento right back where they were in March of 2011, trying to convince David Stern and the other 29 owners that California’s capitol city deserves to keep its beloved Kings. The next question is about the arena — a new one needs to be built wherever the franchise plays next.

So what are those Sacramento fan groups doing now?

Let’s just say they’re not simply handing out fliers (though we will say that they’re circulating petitions for both Seattle and Sacramento to get a team).

As announced earlier today on the Carmichael Dave Show, Dave is leading a coordinated grassroots effort including fans, businesses, and community leaders called Here We Buy (click the link to check it out).

If you don’t recall, Carmichael Dave is the symbolic and emotional leader of the Sacramento movement, and a local media voice that was dismissed by the team sponsored radio station, with many speculating that his aggressive stance on relocation matters was behind it.

Carmichael Dave became this leader when he started a movement called Here We Build that collected over $500,000 in ‘promised pledges’ in the days after the Maloofs announced they were trying to go to Anaheim.  Dave partnered with Jiffy Lube director of marketing Matt Graham to put the #HereWeBuild hashtag on electronic billboards clear across Sacramento, but when mayor Kevin Johnson and Sacramento’s business community convinced the NBA  to give them another year to organize a funding plan the PR effort wasn’t needed anymore.

Of course, collecting Monopoly money to pay for a $400 million arena for owners with both feet out the door is a little bit silly, but Dave and others were doing the best they could under the constraints they had.

“We (grassroots leaders) were rookies back then,” said Dave. “We’re grizzled veterans now.”

What the new Here We Buy initiative will do is give a way for fans and businesses to express their interest in purchasing season tickets or sponsoring the Kings under new ownership.

Carmichael Dave’s group hasn’t set any specific goals for the initiative, but the idea is to show the NBA and prospective owners how ready and excited Sacramento is to fill an arena.  A successful campaign can help show both the new owners and the league that they are walking into a plug-and-play deal.

Equally important to the campaign is giving fans a way to get involved in what has been a long, helpless journey. While fan groups have still been breaking their necks attending city council meetings, working with social media, and going to games while both the team and arena literally fall apart before their eyes — fans have been in the same holding pattern that the deal-makers have been in.

With a legitimate way to give fans the chance to help add another feather to Sacramento’s cap, Dave is expecting the best.

“I think fans of the Kings, despite some media reports, have every reason to be confident. We have the right pieces in our favor. Now we can just participate in the puzzle coming together, and Here We Buy is a big part of that process,” he said.

With Sacramento’s buyers revealing themselves daily, the gears are turning rapidly as ink gets set to paper, decisions get made, and ultimately the city gets ready to make a presentation to Stern and the NBA Board of Governors (the NBA owners).

Mayor Johnson told Sam Amick of USA Today that Stern is aware he will make a request to speak to the league’s governing board before any Seattle deal is finalized, and the deadline for a relocation request to be made this year is March 1 (unless it is extended).

These are just some of the most recent developments highlighting the momentum in Sacramento. Echoing our original breaking report that ‘Kings to Seattle’ was not a done deal, sources close to the situation are still confident that the city will get the chance to meet or beat Seattle’s offer.

I opined on Twitter on Saturday that I thought Sacramento had edged in front of Seattle based on conversations with those sources, and that confidence has been spreading throughout Sacramento, too.

Carmichael Dave summed it up as such:

“I’m very confident about the outcome. I just can’t see a situation where the local bidders offer a price that would possibly break an NBA record, have an arena deal already signed off by the city, only to have the NBA approve the move (to Seattle). It would be unprecedented.”

Sacramento is going to field a competitive offer on all fronts and nobody can explain why Stern would willingly add the stain of leaving Sacramento to clean one up in Seattle.

Rajon Rondo says he will not play in Game 5, doesn’t sound optimistic about quick return

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He tried. Rajon Rondo has seen the Chicago Bulls struggle the last two games without him as a strong defender and stabilizing influence at point guard — something nobody thought Rondo would be mid-season — and he wanted to get back on the court for Game 5 against the Celtics. He took some steps toward getting ready to play.

But it’s not happening, Rondo said at shootaround Wednesday. From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

And it’s not just the fractured thumb.

If the Bulls are going to win this series, they are going to have to do it without Rondo.

Isaiah Canaan will get the start in Game 5, and he will set a lot of screens in a 1/3 pick-and-roll to try and get Isaiah Thomas switched on to Jimmy Butler. Canaan can do that. He had fallen way out of the rotation and is really a two-guard not a point, but with the terrible play of Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams, coach Fred Hoiberg took a gamble. It worked, at least for one game. Canaan with the other four Bulls starters — Butler, Dwyane Wade, Nikola Mirotic, and Robin Lopez — were +12 in 11 minutes together in Game 4, and played well on both ends of the court. But Canaan was buried on the bench for a reason, he shot 36.4 percent on the season, 26.6 percent from three, and he’s not a great defender. The Celtics will be prepared for him in Game 5.

Hoiberg’s best option is to lean on a no point guard lineup when it matters most, with three wings who can handle the ball in Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and probably Denzel Valentine. That could be a challenging defensive lineup and Boston will try to get the lightning quick Isaiah Thomas switched onto Wade or Valentine (neither of which can guard him). Also, this lineup would be draining and put a big load on Butler, but he could handle it for critical stretches of the game.

Cleveland OKs last chunk of financing to upgrade Cavs’ arena

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland officials have committed the final chunk of financing for $140 million in upgrades planned at the Cavaliers’ home arena.

The makeover of Quicken Loans Arena would include more space for dining and gathering.

The cost of renovations to the concert and sports venue is being split by the city, the team, Cuyahoga County, and a convention and visitors bureau. The final total is expected to be roughly double the initial $140 million price tag, mostly because of interest over the next two decades.

Cleveland’s share is an estimated $88 million over 11 years, starting in 2024. Mayor Frank Jackson signed off on that Tuesday.

The county already approved the deal and agreed to sell bonds for the project.

The team committed to extend its lease at the arena to 2034. It is expected the team will make a bid to host the NBA All-Star game once renovations are complete.

Did Russell Westbrook really block a teammates shot to get ball back during Game 5?

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Well, this video plays right into the hands of the anti-Westbrook crowd.

The knock on Russell Westbrook‘s season-long triple double and MVP candidacy is that he is chasing stats, padding his numbers at the expense of efficiency and making the Thunder a better team. Basically, he’s looking out for himself and to heck with his teammates.

Which leads to this fourth-quarter video from Game 5.

It sure looks like Westbrook blocks Jerami Grant‘s shot to get the rebound (we only have the one camera angle here).

I would argue that this was just Westbrook being uber aggressive — the only way he ever plays — and he was going hard for the rebound and not noticing it was his teammate about to get the ball. Westbrook just wants the ball and gets it. But he also wants to win and would not have taken the ball out of Grant’s hands had he seen who it was in time to react.

Game 5 — where the Rockets eliminated the Thunder — was a microcosm of the Westbrook debate. Westbrook finished with 47 points on 15-of-34 shooting, but was 2-of-11 in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City was +12 in the 41:52 that Westbrook played, but was -18 in the 6:07 he sat. You can read whatever you want into those numbers.

Much like the video above.

Former Pacers’ star Danny Granger on Paul George: “you can’t fault him if he leaves Indiana”

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There was a time when Paul George was an up-and-coming but raw young player on an Indiana team led by Danny Granger. It was when Granger went down injured that George was thrust into a larger role, where he thrived in the trial by fire.

Granger knows what it’s like to be the star player of the Pacers, and he knows George, so on Bill Reiter asked Granger his thoughts during an episode of CBS’ “Reiter Than You” and Granger’s answer was not what Pacers fans wanted to hear.

“You look at him in that press conference (after losing to Cleveland) and his face and the dejection on it – the guy wants to win. Money don’t make everybody happy, but winning and success and your craft, that does fill a void that a lot of these players have. So you can’t fault him if he leaves Indiana, I’ll tell you that.”

Oh, Pacers fans will fault him. Even if he’s traded.

Pacers’ decision maker Larry Bird isn’t going to do anything until he sees if George makes an All-NBA Team, because if he does Indiana can offer him the new “designated player” contract this summer worth around $80 million more guaranteed than any other team can offer. George will not walk away from that.

However, if, as expected, George doesn’t make an All-NBA team, Bird is going to have to revisit the idea of trading George, who can be a free agent in 2018 — and the sense around the league is he will walk away at that point if the Pacers are not contenders. (There are a lot of Lakers’ rumors there, but whether George would leave a team where he is dragging lesser players to a low playoff seed and a first-round exit in Indiana for the same situation in his old hometown is up for debate.)

Bird isn’t going to deal George for pennies on the dollar at this point — think the Kings’ trading DeMarcus Cousins — but if some team comes through with a legitimate quality offer of young players that can help jump start the rebuild in Indiana, he may have to jump at it.

Either way, Granger is right that you can’t blame George for wanting to move on, but plenty of fans will anyway.