Tag: Kings

Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors

Pistons, Mavs, Lakers and Heat looking hard at restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas


Sacramento Kings starting point guard Isaiah Thomas has beaten the odds for his entire basketball career and now he’s set to get his first big payday.

The Kings recently extended a qualifying offer to Thomas making him a restricted free agent, and league sources tell PBT that as many as five teams have expressed interest in making an offer to steal away the point guard.

The Pistons, Heat, Lakers, Mavs and Suns have all expressed interest, with the Pistons showing the most interest to date and numbers starting in the three-year, $24 million range. Talks with teams in playoff contention have started in the $6-7 million per-year range.

Thomas averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game last season while hitting 45.3 percent of his shots. He ranked second for the Kings in win shares with 7.7, just behind DeMarcus Cousins at 7.9 and ahead of Rudy Gay at 4.5, with the rest of the team far behind the trio.

Last season, Thomas also became the 29th player in league history to have averaged 20 points and six assists in a year with a 20.0 Player Efficiency Rating (PER). The Kings were 3.9 points per possession better defensively with Thomas on the floor last season.

Sacramento approves new Kings arena in final vote


Years and even decades of struggles came to an end on Tuesday, when the Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 to approve a new Entertainment and Sports Center that the Kings will call home as soon as the 2016 season. This is the final vote on the arena and demolition of a failed mall at the new arena site in Sacramento’s downtown will commence immediately.

Tuesday’s vote was marked by all-day celebrations including appearances by owner Vivek Ranadive, point guard Isaiah Thomas, and a host of local figures that were instrumental in keeping the team in town.

Sacramento had tried for years to come to an agreement on an arena with the intransigent Maloof family, who lost the means to own an NBA team and desperately sought to relocate as a solution to their financial woes.

The team was eventually sold to Ranadive after Seattle billionaires Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer tried to cut a quick deal with the Maloofs, which the league rejected because of its preference to keep the team in Sacramento. The Maloofs begrudgingly sold the team to Ranadive after it was clear that they had no other choice.

Kings fans have dealt with relocation threats for many years and their grassroots efforts to keep the team were well-documented. Their local politicians and business leaders made a concerted effort to keep the team in town. That support was the difference between keeping the team and suffering the fate of other cities like Seattle that did not want to play ball on the issue of public funding for state-of-the-art arenas.

While the topic of public funding for arenas is controversial, what isn’t in doubt is that Sacramento put its time and money on the line and the city deserves tremendous credit for keeping its team. Tuesday’s vote leaves just one last step in a long journey – opening night.

Kevin Johnson not interested in NBPA job, but he would be the best man for the job


One of the best opening playoff rounds in recent memory got turned on its head when TMZ released audio on Friday allegedly containing several terrible, racially-charged remarks that Clippers owner Donald Sterling made to his girlfriend.

The next day in Memphis, a somewhat overwhelmed Adam Silver held his first presser under duress as the NBA’s head man, just as news of the death of former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley hit the wire.  The commissioner spoke in his usual lawyerly style, which was proper as the NBA tip-toes through a minefield of legal issues.

To date, the NBA Players Association has worked alongside Silver to ensure that due process is followed, that things don’t get out of hand from the players’ standpoint, and most importantly from their point of view that the NBA does everything it can to deal with the Sterling situation with the heaviest hand possible.

Part of why the players and the NBA have worked well together so far has been the familiar face of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.  Johnson has been in the process of finding a new executive director for the beleaguered union, but he was called upon by Clippers point guard Chris Paul to get involved with the players’ response to this issue.

Sources close to Johnson tell ProBasketballTalk that he is not interested in the union’s head job, despite round applause from people around the league for his handling of the Sterling situation so far.

Johnson was a driving force behind Sacramento’s success in keeping the Kings in town last year.  He worked alongside the league, David Stern and Adam Silver to secure a qualified owner and new arena with the Maloof family wanting out of the league.  The Maloofs knew they needed to create a bidding war in order to get the highest sales price possible, and they struck a controversial deal with Seattle billionaires Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to sell the team.  The deal was designed to quickly put pressure on Johnson and Sacramento to deliver a qualified response, and from Seattle’s point of view the strategy was to create an air of inevitability among decision-makers and media that Sacramento had a shaky proposal.

It was amidst this backdrop that Johnson methodically used his political background to outmaneuver his opponents and convince owners to reject the Kings’ relocation to Seattle.  His team boasted political heavyweight and crisis consultant Chris Lehane, and his network of contacts extend all the way up to President Barack Obama.

The NBPA would certainly love to have Johnson in their top spot because he would be the best man for the job, but they’ll have to settle for him finding the next best thing.

Sacramento and Denmark to duel for Guinness indoor sound record tonight


It’s not every day that an NBA basketball game becomes the site of Guinness World Record testing, and as you might have heard Sacramento Kings fans are wasting no time putting their grassroots organizations to work by attempting to break the indoor sound record of 106.6 dBA previously set by the fans of the Bucks (plus a few Clippers fans) at the Bradley Center in 2008.

The idea started when one of the leaders of #HereWeStay effort (@HereWeStayED), Kevin Fippin, started using social media to drum up support to target Friday’s nationally televised ESPN game for an attempt to break the record.

ESPN ruffled some feathers in Sacramento before the season after using a Seattle-based company to compile data that would eventually rank the Kings the worst franchise of all of the four major sports.

This prompted the team to issue a rebuke of the rankings in an ad campaign with the copy: “Hey ESPN. Nice Airball. New Era. New Swagger. The Best Fans Await You. 11.15.13

The rankings also caused former NBA Executive Vice President of Team Marketing and Business Operations and new President of the Kings to issue the following statement:

“We love ESPN, but think they could have given us the benefit of foresight in their rankings,” said Granger. “They know what we have going here. And, if they don’t, we’re going to show them when they visit us on November 15.”

So the gauntlet had already been thrown down when Fippin’s efforts on social media caught the attention of Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, with a sellout already likely and enough compelling crowd shots to make the Kings’ point to the four-letter network.

“Think the Kings should get behind this cause and help us get our record back? Tweet @vivek and @cgkings yourself & let them know. #HereWeRoar,” tweeted Fippin, to which the billionaire owner replied playfully “can u speak a little louder please.”

By then Vivek and Granger saw the lightning in a bottle and decided to bring it all together by notifying Guinness.

“I guess a call to Guinness is the first line of business tomorrow morning,” tweeted Granger, who arranged for the adjudicator of random records to officially test Friday’s game for crowd noise.

It’s a neat little story for a fanbase that is still in the honeymoon phase after years of torture at the hands of the Maloof brothers, and it took a turn toward competitive on Wednesday when promoters for the WBA & WBO Intercontinental Championship fight between Patrick Nielsen and Jose Pinto in Denmark decided to issue their own challenge.

They’re going to try to break the record that Sacramento is expected to blow away just 12 hours earlier.

“Boxing is all about timing and countering,” promoter Nisse Sauerland said. “Should needs be we will land the decisive counterpunch and knock out the Kings´ record. Make no mistake, we wish them the best of luck. They have done a brilliant job with their viral #HereWeRoar campaign. But we´ll take it one step further – #HereWeRoarKO.”

The MusikTeatret Albertslund arena in Denmark seats just around 2,000 people, but like Sleep Train Arena the promoter says the acoustics give them a fighting shot.

“We´ve got experts with a high-profile decibel device, 2000 ear plugs and the support of Patrick´s wild fans,” Sauerland added. “They might be outnumbered, but the great acoustics at the venue will give us the chance for a big upset. May the loudest fans win.”

ESPN appeared to poke the bear on Tuesday, too, sending out a tweet directed at followers of the Kings’ official Twitter account. “@SacramentoKings If Kings fans are #ForeverPurple, prove it.”

A source told me that Kings fans actually beat the sound record in Wednesday’s game during practice testing (which doesn’t count), but now with wild card Denmark in the mix it’s a whole new ballgame.

“Knowing we have somebody hot on our tail is going to keep the energy high,” said Mike Tavares, who heads up the fan and advocacy group Crown Downtown. “Though I don’t think our fans need much extra motivation to go nuts.”

It looks like ESPN is going to get all the proof they need and then some.

Kings offer challenge after ESPN ranks the franchise worst in major sports


ESPN caused a stink in Sacramento recently when ESPN the Magazine released its franchise rankings across the four major sports.

The cover contains the headline, “#1: The Memphis Grizzlies are the best franchise in sports” followed by “No. 122: The Sacramento Kings are not.”

While this rating could have been somewhat explainable if the hapless Maloof family still owned the team, the firepower and momentum behind new ownership led by Vivek Ranadive — the group that successfully fought to keep the Kings in Sacramento and get a new stadium built — should have moved the franchise many, many spots up that list.

ESPN released a press release explaining their rationale:

“Every year, ESPN The Magazine compiles the results of fan surveys and financial analysis to determine which teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL offer the greatest rewards for all the emotion, money and time that fans invest in them. … In all, 122 teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball were ranked in order, based on a weighted average of scores in eight areas ranging from the quantitative to the emotionally subjective:

• Fan relations (25.2%)
• Affordability (17.4%)
• “Bang for the buck” (16.8%)
• Stadium experience (12.4%)
• Players (11.30%)
• Ownership (10.2%)
• Title track (3.6%)
• Coaching (3.1%)”

The Sac Bee’s Jason Jones reported that the rankings were “based off last season’s ownership, coaching, etc.”

That makes ESPN’s decision not to adjust those rankings for easily predictable improvements a curious one.

Fast forward to Saturday night, the Kings issued their own press release challenging ESPN.  The team released advertisements saying, “Hey ESPN. Nice Airball. New Era. New Swagger. The Best Fans Await You. 11.15.13.”

The messaging references the Nov. 15 nationally televised home game between the Kings and the Detroit Pistons on ESPN.

“Under Vivek’s leadership, there is a lot happening in Sacramento: a new ambition, new investments in talent and arena infrastructure, and a new commitment to our wonderful community,” said Kings President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Granger. “We have the best fans in sports and we will work tirelessly until we give them the best franchise in the world.”

“We love ESPN, but think they could have given us the benefit of foresight in their rankings,” continued Granger. “They know what we have going here. And, if they don’t, we’re going to show them when they visit us on November 15.”

As we’ve seen when Kings fans rallied in unprecedented ways to save their team, ESPN may have a hard time finding a crowd shot representative of the worst franchise in sports.