Sources: “Mega-Whales” Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov in serious talks with Sacramento

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There aren’t a lot of people willing to give Sacramento much of a fighting chance to hold on to the Kings, but they’re not going down without a big money fight.

Sources familiar with the situation tell ProBasketballTalk that “mega whales” Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov are in serious talks with the city of Sacramento to collaborate on a bid to buy the Kings and keep them in California’s capitol.

Additionally, sources report that there is no shortage of bidders as at least five groups have approached the city and have NBA-level credentials.

Burkle famously was interested in buying the Kings from the Maloofs when they filed for relocation in 2011, but was rebuffed by the family in an emotional response.

From Sacramento’s perspective, the combination of Burkle and Mastrov would be an extremely compelling group to present to the NBA’s Board of Governors, and is being called a “dream team” by those close to the negotiations. Burkle, a billionaire, has transformed the Pittsburgh Penguins into a model NHL franchise and was coveted by Commissioner David Stern, who excitedly told Kevin Johnson last year, “You’ve got Burkle?” Mastrov founded the 24 Hour Fitness chain and finished second in a recent bid to purchase the Warriors, ahead of billionaire Larry Ellison.

Both owners would work with the city of Sacramento using a model of last year’s arena plan that was negotiated and agreed upon by David Stern and AEG. Sources say that their interest is derived from Sacramento’s burgeoning basketball marketplace, a market they has been evaluated in talks to be a top-5 NBA market when one factors in the lack of other sports competition.

Hanging over the situation is the fact that the NBA has received over $3 billion in public subsidy money for arenas since 1990, and sources with knowledge of the situation maintain that Sacramento’s current “model offer” of public funds will not go unrecognized by the NBA’s Board of Governors. Aside from a public relations nightmare similar to that of Sonicsgate, the league’s ability to secure future funds from cities could be threatened if Sacramento is abandoned for Seattle. Yahoo! Sports and CSN Bay Area have reported that the Board of Governors has already made up their minds to support a move to Seattle, but sources speaking to PBT on the condition of anonymity don’t see it that way.

The Sacramento Bee and USA Today were first to report these developments.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.