Seattle ups bid $75 million in last ditched attempt to buy Kings

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What NBA commissioner David Stern has said from the start is that he did not want a pure bidding war for the Sacramento Kings. In part because that puts more money in the pockets of the Maloof family, and who wants that?

But after losing out when the NBA’s relocation committee unanimously recommended against the move of the Kings, essentially killing the sale to his Seattle based group — instead essentially favoring a matching bid from Sacramento — Seattle’s Chris Hansen essentially has turned to a bidding war.

The Seattle group upped its valuation of the team by $75 million to $625 million total, Hansen announced on sonicsarena.com (first reported by Chris Daniels at King5.com). That would up their out of pocket money (they are buying 65 percent of the team) by about $49 million.

“In an effort to further demonstrate the extent of our commitment to bring basketball back to Seattle, we have elected to voluntarily increase our proposed purchase price for the Sacramento Kings NBA Franchise by $75 million — from an enterprise value of $550 million to $625 million,” Hansen wrote. “In conjunction with our revised offer, we have also guaranteed to the NBA that the Franchise would be a revenue sharing payer in all years in Seattle.”

We’ll see, but I doubt it matters — what owners have said about the decision (and before) that this was not about Seattle’s offer being bad so much as Sacramento rallying like pro sports leagues want their cities to do to save a team.

Our man on the ground on this issue, Aaron Bruski, is hearing the same thing.

Sacramento officials don’t seem too concerned.

“We feel very confident about the position we are in right now,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said in a released statement. “The NBA leadership and owners have always said that their decision would not be dictated by a bidding war. This was always about whether Sacramento, a community that has supported the NBA for 28 years, can put together a plan and organization to ensure the franchise can rebuild and thrive. The ownership group, the city, and the community have shown the NBA, without any shred of doubt, that the Sacramento Kings belong in Sacramento. I believe the NBA owners realize that there is far more to think about than just an increased bid.”

This feels more like Hansen is just making a backcourt heave at the buzzer. That said, it could put pressure on the league in regards to an expansion team, it also could help if he decides to go to court on anti-trust grounds.

Months ago the Maloofs had struck a deal to sell the team to a Seattle group led by venture capitalist Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. From Stern on down the league had called this a good offer that included a new stadium and more.

However, rallied by Mayor Kevin Johnson in Sacramento, that city put together a counter-offer that was led by their own billionaire — Vivek Ranadive, a Silicon Valley guy who is a minority owner of the Warriors — and they had plans for a new stadium as well.

As several owners said off the record — and some now-deleted twitter DMs from Heat owner Micky Arison explained — the owners backed Sacramento because the incumbent had rallied to put together a public-private partnership that is the kind of thing the league wants to see. It was really not about Seattle losing so much as Sacramento winning.

Although Hansen and Seattle still felt like they lost — and like they were used as leverage to force a better deal out of another city.

So they upped the offer to put more pressure on the deal. We’ll see if it matters, but you know how often backcourt shots at the buzzer fall.

Rockets owner appears to leave seat, yell at refs during matchup with Thunder (VIDEO)

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The Houston Rockets are in control of their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and were up 3-1 heading into Tuesday night’s Game 5 in Texas.

That did not stop what appeared to be Rockets owner Leslie Alexander from complaining to NBA referees. During gameplay. While standing directly next to an official, some 20 feet from his courtside seat.

Via Twitter:

Congratulations are in order to Bill Kennedy, the official in question, for keeping his cool. Or perhaps he just was so surprised by some dude yelling in his ear from right next to him he didn’t know how to react.

Brandon Jennings no fan of the NBA’s new Awards Ceremony event

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Come June 26, Drake will be on stage in New York City, handing out the NBA’s awards — Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and so on. (We need to set an under/over on the number of players Drake hugs that night.)

The NFL does it. The NHL does it. And the NBA has decided to follow suit with a broadcast awards ceremony where everything — except the All-NBA Team — will be announced that night. It’s happening because the broadcast partners want it.

Brandon Jennings is not a fan. Here is what the Wizards’ point guard Tweeted:

Jennings took down a Tweet that said if he had won the award he would have wanted to get it with the organization and his teammates around him. (And no, he knows he’s not winning the award. If you were going to put that in the comments be more creative.)

There’s something to what Jennings is saying. The NBA award roll out was awkward at times in previous years, but it gave the fans a chance to celebrate the awards with their favorite player. Now, everyone will watch it unfold on television from a ballroom in NYC. That feels a little colder. Also, we will get to see the reaction of those who don’t win (particularly this season, where several players can make a strong case for MVP).

It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, and how the league tweaks it going forward. The more than two month gap between the end of the regular season and the awards could feel a bit awkward. But we’re not going to knock the idea until we’ve seen it in action.

Portland GM makes it official, Festus Ezeli will not be back with team next season

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This season the Portland Trail Blazers found their center of the future (and the present) in Jusuf Nurkic.

Which makes the next step fairly obvious: Portland will not pick up the option on Festus Ezeli for next season, GM Neil Olshay confirmed at the team exit meetings Tuesday.

Portland signed Ezeli on what they thought was a great contract (one-year, $7.4 million, with a team option for the second year) because he was coming off knee surgery last summer. However, Ezeli was never healthy, needed a second surgery, and never got on the court. After taking it slow over last summer he practiced with the team twice in mid-October, there was more swelling, so he pulled back.

This summer Ezeli will not draw any guaranteed money from teams, but some teams may take a look at him. Athletic bigs get a lot of chances in the NBA.

Gordon Hayward will play for Jazz in Game 5 without minutes restriction

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Gordon Hayward has averaged 20.5 points a game in these playoffs — and that includes a 40 point outburst in Game 3 — but what has been more impressive is he has done it efficiently, with a true shooting percentage of 61.1. While Joe Johnson and others have stepped up, Utah will need Hayward’s shot creation if they are going to win this series.

They will have it Tuesday night in Game 5.

After missing the second half of Game 4 due to food poisoning (he tried to play but was ineffective in the first half), he is back and ready to go this time around.

So is Rudy Gobert. The Jazz will be at full health, while the Clippers remain without Blake Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs.

Having those two back is a boost for the Jazz, they need to score more consistently against the Clippers, but the bigger key will be defensively trying to deal with Chris Paul on the pick-and-roll. He has been masterful this series, and the Jazz need to keep him in check to give their offense a chance.