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.

Gregg Popovich will not coach Game 4 following death of his wife, Erin

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will not be on the sidelines again for Game 4 Sunday following the death of his wife, Erin, to a lengthy illness.

Ettore Messina will again coach the Spurs.

Popovich also missed Game 3. His San Antonio Spurs are down 3-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the first-round matchup. None of that matters compared to the loss of a woman he loved and was married to for four decades.

Erin Popovich’s passing has cast a pall over the series, especially with Warriors coach Steve Kerr being very close to the Popovichs dating back to his playing days with the Spurs.

The reaction and sadness about Erin’s passing has reached well beyond this series.

Our thoughts are with the Popovich family in this difficult time.

Anthony Davis’ 47 points, Pelicans sweep Trail Blazers out of playoffs

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half, and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday.

Jrue Holiday capped his 41-point performance with an 18-foot pull-up jumper that gave the Pelicans a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.

Rajon Rondo added 16 assists, and Davis also had 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the NBA returned to the city 16 seasons ago.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 for the Trail Blazers, who responded to a blowout loss in Game 3 by keeping Game 4 close until the final minute. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27, Damian Lillard added 18 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.

Lillard’s difficult driving layup had just tied the game at 60 when the Pelicans briefly pulled away, going on an 11-2 run capped by Davis’ 3.

Soon after, Nikola Mirotic added step-back 3. Davis, who scored 19 in the third quarter, then added a layup while falling down after a hard foul by Aminu, after which Davis flexed both biceps while still sitting on the court.

Holiday’s transition 3 made it 87-72, prompting Portland to call timeout while Holiday walked slowly toward mid-court, nodding and smiling wide as he soaked in the crowd’s adulation.

New Orleans led by 13 to start the fourth quarter, but Portland refused to wilt, opening the period on a 15-4 run that included Nurkic’s hook shot, 20-foot jumper and dunk. McCollum’s transition layup made it 104-102 with nearly nine minutes to play.

Portland got as close as a single point on Aminu’s layup with 5:08 to go, but Davis responded with 12 points over the final 4:56, starting with a layup as he was fouled and a 3-pointer. Holiday scored six points during the final 2:52, starting with his 3-pointer. The pair combined for all but one of New Orleans’ points during that pivotal stretch.

Leading up to Game 4, Lillard spoke of the need for the Blazers to ramp up their intensity and physicality. From the tip, it looked as though they’d done so.

In stark contrast to Game 3, when New Orleans led by 18 in the first quarter, this game was tight and testy.

Anthony and Ed Davis received double technical fouls after bumping one another following one of Anthony Davis’ dunks – and that was just the beginning.

McCollum was called for a flagrant foul when he stormed into the lane behind E'Twaun Moore and grabbed the Pelicans guard by the shoulders to thwart a driving layup attempt. Moore then shoved McCollum and was assessed a technical foul.

And in the final seconds of the half, double technicals were assessed to Rondo and Portland center Zach Collins after Rondo lowered his forehead into Collins’ chest and Collins shoved back.

When halftime arrived, New Orleans led 58-56.

 

 

Twins Marcus, Markieff Morris each fined by league for separate instances

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Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris have a special bond, one that includes doing so much together on the basketball court — playing at the same high school, the same AAU team, then going to college together at Kansas, and even playing together in the NBA for a while together with the Suns (they are now on separate teams).

That includes them both getting fined Saturday by the NBA for recent actions during the playoffs.

Washington’s Markieff Morris picked up a $25,000 fine for “attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing a game official,” the league announced. Here is the play in question, just minutes into Game 3.

Toronto’s OG Anunoby draws a foul knocking Morris to the ground, but Morris starts the incident with an elbow to Anunoby’s back, and he does push referee Kenny Mauer. Considering all that, a $25,000 fine is not that severe.

His twin Marcus Morris picked up a $15,000 for “public criticism of the officiating,” which he certainly did following the Celtics’ Game 3 loss to the Bucks. Here are his comments, and they are NSFW.

That $15,000 fine is pretty much the going rate for ripping the referees after the game.

Markieff outdid his brother on this one… if you consider getting the larger fine the “win.”

As expected, likely top-three pick Luka Doncic files to enter NBA draft

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Luka Doncic — the 6’8″ point forward who is putting up impressive numbers against men at the highest levels of European basketball — is bringing is game to the NBA. As expected.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the expected is now official.

Doncic, 19, submitted draft paperwork this week to formally enter his name, league sources said. Doncic is arguably the most decorated European player to make a jump to the NBA, a wunderkind who’s been playing in the EuroLeague since 2015. He is currently leading Real Madrid in the EuroLeague playoffs, averaging 14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season.

The 6-foot-7 Doncic has the ability to play multiple positions, from being a primary ball-handler to shooting and playmaking off the ball. His season in Europe could continue into late May or June. NBA executives have long been intrigued by Doncic’s potential stardom, and several are continuing to make scouting trips for him.

Doncic is expected to go in the top three (likely the top two) come this June’s draft.

If you’re about to bring up Darko Milicic or some other European bust, just stop. This Slovenian has proven he can play — in 54 games this season between Liga ACB (Spain’s league, second best in the NBA) and the Euroleague, Doncic is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game. He has shown a gift for passing that should blossom in the more open play of the NBA, plus he just knows how to run a team and make plays. He can score when called upon and has three-point range, can shoot off the bounce, and if you switch a smaller guy onto him, Doncic can just post him up.

He’s not going to be a bust.

However, what his ceiling is remains the debate. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards who has struggled at points for Real Madrid when guarded by borderline-NBA level Americans in Europe. Can he defend at the NBA level? Can he be consistent with his jumper? He may be elite, but it’s no given.

He’s going to be good, and his floor is higher than a lot of the other top prospects in this draft class. However, if a GM thinks that Marvin Bagley III or Mohamed Bamba both have a higher ceiling and can reach it, they may go with the Americans. Doncic is going to put some GMs in an interesting position.