Update: Judge rejects first lawsuit against Seattle arena

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Earlier today our Aaron Bruski laid out in detail how lawsuits and the environmental review process for a proposed new arena in Seattle is no slam dunk. It’s another sign of how Sacramento is not out of this.

But one of the two lawsuits trying to challenge the Seattle project was tossed out by a judge on Friday. This one by the port’s longshoreman’s union challenged the site selection process. From the Associated Press:

King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North held that the agreement between the city of Seattle, King County and an investment group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen does not violate state environmental law.

“This is a big win in our work to bring the Sonics home to Seattle,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in a written statement.

Hansen, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a group of investors have an agreement to purchase the majority of the Kings and then move the team to Seattle. The league is reviewing their application for a vote in April. Part of that plan calls for a new arena in the South Downtown area (SODO) where there are already arenas for the Seahawks and Mariners. There are traffic concerns in the area, something to be discussed and suggested solutions to be part of the environmental document underway now.

For the longshoreman, they have concerns that traffic congestion in the SODO area, near the port, could slow goods movement and with that growth of the port. Meaning its union jobs. The lawsuit would have given the port and union leverage in trying to get more traffic mitigation in the area. But these kinds of lawsuits are pretty standard for any large development.

As its press conference last week, NBA Commissioner David Stern blew off concerns about the lawsuits against the project, or any that could come in Sacramento.

In Sacramento, mayor Kevin Johnson is putting together a competitive package, with billionaire owners willing to buy the team and plans for a new arena downtown, that will be presented to the league next week and eventually to the other NBA owners when the Board of Governors meet in April.

In the end that is who will decide this. Seattle can act like the deal is done, Sacramento can put together a quality alternative proposal, and it will come down to what the 29 other NBA owners decide. If they vote to go back to Seattle, that will happen. If they reject that sale the Maloof family likely will have to deal with a sale o the team to the new proposed local owners.

Everything before the owners vote is window dressing. Including this tossed lawsuit.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.