Owners vote to officially reject relocation of Kings to Seattle

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This was the expected outcome after a committee of owners unanimously recommended to kill the move — and while Seattle upped their bid to try and buy the team, it was not enough.

The NBA owners voted Wednesday to reject an application to move the Kings to Seattle, something announced by NBA Commissioner David Stern. He said the vote was 22-8 against relocation (Seattle needed a majority). The news was first reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today .

“We will talk to the Mallofs (the family that owns the Kings) and seek in the next 24 to 48 hours whether we can help facilitate an agreement to be signed between the Ranadive group (the Sacramento counter bid) and the Maloofs for the sale of the franchise in Sacramento,” Stern said. “Let me say the Seattle presentation was brisk, firm, excellent and reflects the effort s that were put into this and the extraordinary ownership group they have put together….

“(It was recommended to the owners) if the Sacramento could produce a site, a construction team, a financially strong ownership group, and the kind of support by the city and the region that Major (Kevin) Johnson has galvanized, the appropriate outcome was to keep the team in Sacramento. And that’s what they did.”

The Maloof family, which owns the Kings, had an agreement with a group out of Seattle led by Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (who was not at the Board of Governors meeting in Dallas) and while technically this doesn’t block that sale it does in practice — Hansen’s group does not want to own a team in Sacramento.

The Maloofs had worked to avoid selling the team to this Sacramento group, but Stern said he “anticipates they will come to be open” to selling to the group now. Basically because they are out of options.

While the Seattle group had proposed a “backup plan” of buying a minority portion of the team, that is not going to fly with the other owners. However, the only vote was on the relocation, not the sale of the team.

Stern said he wanted to keep an open dialogue with the Seattle group, but they do not have “anything concrete to report” about a team moving there.

When asked about the idea of expansion, Stern said the owners thought that was a topic to discuss after the next national television package is signed. The League wants to get that new deal done this summer.

The Maloofs do not have to sell the team, but they are essentially considered too cash poor to run the franchise. They are going to sell. And the only good option on the table will be the alternative group brought forward by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and led by Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadive. That group put an offer out matching the original Seattle offer (a $525 franchise valuation), and that group also is working on plans for a new arena in downtown Sacramento.

There is a lot of frustration in Seattle — they felt screwed over by the league five years ago and this decision felt like that wound was opened again. While down the road it may be possible to bring the political and economic forces together again to buy a team and get an arena built, it would be a hard sell right now.

“This was not an anti-Seattle vote, this was a pro-Sacramento vote,” Stern said.

Kobe Bryant on race for Podoloff Trophy: “We might see our first co-MVPs this year”

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The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.

It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.

Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.

“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.

That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.

Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.

Watch Rockets C Nene lead the break, eurostep past Enes Kanter (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.

On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.

The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.

Kobe Bryant says he didn’t even have NBA League Pass until a month ago (VIDEO)

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What has retired all-time NBA great Kobe Bryant been doing with his time? A little of this, a little of that. Apparently that doesn’t include watching non-national NBA games.

Speaking with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Michael Smith on SC6, Bryant revealed that he went to go watch a little NBA while he was getting a workout in at his house and realized he didn’t have the NBA package hooked up on his cable.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know if I totally buy this. On one hand, Kobe is a busy guy and he did spend two decades living and breathing the NBA night in and night out. I would expect that after all that time he might want some kind of relief.

Then again, to think that Kobe doesn’t have multiple assistants that would have handled that sort of thing already is sort of silly. The only benefit here is Kobe trying to sell that he’s just relaxing and not paying attention to the league too much, which is hilarious.

Kobe, we all know who you are by now. You’re watching the league, man. You’re Kobe. We get it. You didn’t suddenly turn into The Dude.

Let’s just hope Kobe’s League Pass works right off the bat. We all know how much of a hassle it can be.

Damian Lillard dismisses playoff expectations as pressure, says it insults regular people

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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a disappointing season thus far. The team is just 34-38 before their game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and they’re battling it out for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with the Denver Nuggets.

This comes as after expectations rose greatly following the 2015-16 campaign which saw the Blazers finish 44-38, good enough for the No. 5 spot in the West.

Portland has looked better after trading Mason Plumlee to Denver in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, but it might be too little too late. Meanwhile, team leader Damian Lillard isn’t bowing to the idea that last season’s good fortune raised the bar so much that it put undue pressure on his team.

Speaking with Sporting News, Lillard said he thinks the idea is really more about pressure vs. challenges.

Via SN:

Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.

Look at the Wizards, they were kind of on the same wave as us. Didn’t even make the playoffs while we did. Now this year they’re the second-best team in the East. The adversity made them better. It can make us better, too. What I come from and my background made me who I am. As comfortable as I am with the good times, I’m also comfortable in adversity. Yeah, I might feel some type of way when somebody comes for me or says my name. But when it’s all said and done, it ain’t gonna rock me.

This is interesting to hear an NBA player say out loud. One, because I’m not sure I entirely believe it. You can have pressure without it having to be something that threatens your overall wellbeing.

Then again, maybe we’re arguing linguistics here. There’s definitely a different emotion from, say, trying to make sure you make rent and aren’t evicted to the street vs. trying to make the NBA playoffs. If one emotion is being defined as pressure, it makes sense to call the other a challenge.

It’s also interesting to hear an NBA player speak in those kinds of terms. There are a few guys around the league who seem to be relatively grounded and give out quotes like this from time-to-time. The absurdity of the NBA — playing games, making millions, and having folks worship you — would easily bend reality for most of us.

In any case, the challenge of making the playoffs for Portland is not going to be an easy one to overcome. Going into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the Trail Blazers are a game behind Denver for the final spot.

Portland will face Denver on Tuesday, March 28 in perhaps their most important game of the season.