Seattle SuperSonics v Denver Nuggets

What’s next in sale of Kings? Do all roads point north?

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The Maloofs have made their decision — they have reached a deal to sell the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen and his Seattle based group. As we reported, that sale will be formally announced in the coming days, and by Feb. 1 the Maloof family will get a $30 million deposit.

But that is not the end of the saga. So what’s next? Does Sacramento have any chance of keeping their team?

Here’s what happens from here on out.

• The new ownership group will make their application to the league for team relocation to Seattle for next season, something they must do by March 1. This is key, what nobody wants is a lame duck season where the Seattle group owns the team with plans to move but they play in an empty Sacramento arena.

The relocation committee is expected to easily approve the move, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network. The Kings would play two seasons in Key Arena while their new stadium is built (not far from Safeco Field where the Mariners play). That stadium is going through an environmental review process now but has its financing and most governmental approvals in place already.

• The NBA’s Board of Governors — made up of the owners (or their appointed representative) — has to approve the sale, likely a vote will come when they meet in New York in April (giving the league time to do background checks on the new owners).

This is where Sacramento will makes its last stand — Mayor Kevin Johnson is scheduled to address the BOG and makes his pitch for the owners to reject the sale to Hansen and instead push the Maloofs to sell to a local ownership group. We have detailed how he is putting all of this together and it should be a good offer with legitimate big money. This group will include parties looking to build a new arena in Sacramento.

Johnson will have to show how keeping the team in Sacramento is better for the owners’ bottom line. Sacramento fans can preach image issues if they want, but money is what matters. If the lockout taught us one thing it is that. Which makes things a challenge for Sacramento because Seattle is a larger television market and the owners would get cash in their pockets from a from a relocation fee (which was $30 million for the Sonics to become the Thunder). But as we have detailed Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson believes he can make a compelling case because his group would not have to repay a loan to the city of Sacramento, nor would he have to pay relocate.

There are reports the owners just want to approve the sale and get this all behind them, but like always they will vote what is best for their pocketbooks.

• Negotiations with the Thunder over the name Sonics. Clay Bennett’s group, when it moved the team, kept the rights to the name Sonics but would be open to a transfer if a team moved to Seattle. It’s hard to see him standing in the way of this if the sale is approved, or David Stern letting him.

What is interesting is how you treat the history of the franchises. Do the old Seattle records move back to Seattle with the new franchise? What about the history and records of the Kings, a franchise with a long history going back through Kansas City to the early days of the NBA?

• Whatever happens with the sale of the team, look for a radical reorganization of the front office. Kings GM Geoff Petrie is in the last year of his deal and is reportedly going to retire at the end of the season.

Spurs head man R.C. Buford and former Pacers president Larry Bird are targets of the organization, reports Wojnarowski. Longtime NBA writer Peter Vecsey says Phil Jackson is in the mix for a front office spot. But even if the team stays it is expected that how the Kings are run as an organization will get an overhaul.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.

D’Angelo Russell said he used to play as Luke Walton on NBA 2K; Stephen Jackson calls that crap

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference to discuss the controversy with teammate Nick Young before the start of the NBA game against the Miami Heat at Staples Center March 30, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Did anyone ever fire up NBA 2K9 back in the day, decide to be the soon-to-be-champion Lakers, look at a roster with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom then say “I’m going to be Luke Walton”?

D'Angelo Russell says he did.

The Lakers young point guard has praised the new Laker coach at every turn — Russell and Byron Scott did not get along, the point guard is much happier now — and that includes talking about Walton’s playing days to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”

Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.

Jackson has a point.