Over the next two days in Manhattan — in between expensive dinners and reports on the NBA’s efforts to get a marketing foothold in India — the owners are going to hash out the fate of the Sacramento Kings. In a lot of detail.
But they will not vote on it.
We’ve told you about that delay before, but on Wednesday NBA Commissioner David Stern said it likely will be early next month before the league votes on approving the sale of the team to a group (led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer) that want to move the team to Seattle.
“I would be charitable to say the first week in May, but it could slide a bit,” Stern said. “That’s where we are.”
The combined relocation and finance/sale committees of owners have met the last couple days in New York and will brief the other owners, but that group has not yet made a formal recommendation. That recommendation is expected to carry a lot of weight with the owners.
The owners are deciding between a deep-pocketed Seattle group with plans for a new arena, and a strong counter proposal put together by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson that has its own billionaire and its own arena plan.
If you want to see how owners are torn — and why it feels like Sacramento still has a slim lead in the process — look at what Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen told the Oregonian.
“I think it’s a tough call. Because, although I supported the Sonics staying in Seattle when they ended up leaving, I think in general, there’s some feeling that if there’s good fan support in an area and there’s good political support sufficient enough to have a state-of-the-art facility, that’s more than enough to keep a franchise in the same place. Then you can get all the parameters of who’s made the best offer, who hasn’t made the best offer, all those things. So it’s a very difficult thing. And, of course, Steve Ballmer is a very good friend of mine. I think he’d be a great owner. So I reserve my final decision.”
The owners will make their votes — either in a phone or email process — in a couple weeks.
LeBron James is already there. So is Kevin Durant. Same with a lot of other old-school GMs and coaches around the league.
Their response to the rapid rise in hack-a-player (shouldn’t it always be hack-a-Shaq?) instances is “tell the guy to hit the free throws.”
Add Kobe Bryant to their ranks, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.
Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.
On this play the Sacramento Kings played defense like only they can — and you wonder why George Karl’s job is in danger — and gave Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov a wide-open lane right down the middle for an easy dunk.
LeBron James had a triple-double (the 40th of his career) and the Cavaliers got a needed easy win, but this is the play you’ll remember.
Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast.
While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.
Then Monday he did that to Dante Cunningham.
The Pelicans went on to win the game 116-102, but Towns continues to play well.
The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.
But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.
In an article about Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the wake of Derek Fisher’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the Knicks have a real shot at Westbrook in a couple of summers.
The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.
Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.
Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.
And the Knicks could be involved in all of it.