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 bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.