Sacramento coordinating effort to sell out new owners’ arena before they own it

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Remember hearing the stories about Kings fans and concerned Sacramento citizens trying to raise money for an arena when the Maloofs first announced their intention to move to Anaheim?

If not, go check out the award-winning documentary Small Market, Big Heart and soak up the story of the many different grassroots efforts that popped up to save their team.

These fans orchestrated sell-outs, sit-ins, and some of the younger ones even sold lemonade to get the message across to both the Maloofs and the NBA that Sacramento wanted to keep their team and would support it.

Time has shown that the Maloofs couldn’t afford to run an NBA franchise and that they weren’t ready to operate in good faith, making these efforts look something like William Wallace in Braveheart if he had a really bad case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Fortunately for Sacramento, the Maloofs are becoming less important by the day. They’re going to sell the team or face Armageddon from all angles, as they can’t afford a lame duck year in Sacramento on any level. Sources close to the ongoing relocation saga are convinced that there is no way they keep the team beyond this season.

All the family can do right now is hope that a bidding war between Sacramento and Seattle returns the highest possible dollar for the winning offer, and barring an unlikely antitrust lawsuit from the fledgling family that offer will be the one the NBA lets them take.

Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen has reportedly made offers between $500-525 million in what was characterized by initial reports to be a done deal, though PBT reported that no deal was imminent and so far there is no deal.

Sacramento’s offer likely starts to produce more money than Seattle’s offer for the Maloof family at about $425-450 million, and sources say Sacramento’s final offer is likely to break the NBA record for a franchise sales price ($450 million, Warriors).

This leaves Sacramento right back where they were in March of 2011, trying to convince David Stern and the other 29 owners that California’s capitol city deserves to keep its beloved Kings. The next question is about the arena — a new one needs to be built wherever the franchise plays next.

So what are those Sacramento fan groups doing now?

Let’s just say they’re not simply handing out fliers (though we will say that they’re circulating petitions for both Seattle and Sacramento to get a team).

As announced earlier today on the Carmichael Dave Show, Dave is leading a coordinated grassroots effort including fans, businesses, and community leaders called Here We Buy (click the link to check it out).

If you don’t recall, Carmichael Dave is the symbolic and emotional leader of the Sacramento movement, and a local media voice that was dismissed by the team sponsored radio station, with many speculating that his aggressive stance on relocation matters was behind it.

Carmichael Dave became this leader when he started a movement called Here We Build that collected over $500,000 in ‘promised pledges’ in the days after the Maloofs announced they were trying to go to Anaheim.  Dave partnered with Jiffy Lube director of marketing Matt Graham to put the #HereWeBuild hashtag on electronic billboards clear across Sacramento, but when mayor Kevin Johnson and Sacramento’s business community convinced the NBA  to give them another year to organize a funding plan the PR effort wasn’t needed anymore.

Of course, collecting Monopoly money to pay for a $400 million arena for owners with both feet out the door is a little bit silly, but Dave and others were doing the best they could under the constraints they had.

“We (grassroots leaders) were rookies back then,” said Dave. “We’re grizzled veterans now.”

What the new Here We Buy initiative will do is give a way for fans and businesses to express their interest in purchasing season tickets or sponsoring the Kings under new ownership.

Carmichael Dave’s group hasn’t set any specific goals for the initiative, but the idea is to show the NBA and prospective owners how ready and excited Sacramento is to fill an arena.  A successful campaign can help show both the new owners and the league that they are walking into a plug-and-play deal.

Equally important to the campaign is giving fans a way to get involved in what has been a long, helpless journey. While fan groups have still been breaking their necks attending city council meetings, working with social media, and going to games while both the team and arena literally fall apart before their eyes — fans have been in the same holding pattern that the deal-makers have been in.

With a legitimate way to give fans the chance to help add another feather to Sacramento’s cap, Dave is expecting the best.

“I think fans of the Kings, despite some media reports, have every reason to be confident. We have the right pieces in our favor. Now we can just participate in the puzzle coming together, and Here We Buy is a big part of that process,” he said.

With Sacramento’s buyers revealing themselves daily, the gears are turning rapidly as ink gets set to paper, decisions get made, and ultimately the city gets ready to make a presentation to Stern and the NBA Board of Governors (the NBA owners).

Mayor Johnson told Sam Amick of USA Today that Stern is aware he will make a request to speak to the league’s governing board before any Seattle deal is finalized, and the deadline for a relocation request to be made this year is March 1 (unless it is extended).

These are just some of the most recent developments highlighting the momentum in Sacramento. Echoing our original breaking report that ‘Kings to Seattle’ was not a done deal, sources close to the situation are still confident that the city will get the chance to meet or beat Seattle’s offer.

I opined on Twitter on Saturday that I thought Sacramento had edged in front of Seattle based on conversations with those sources, and that confidence has been spreading throughout Sacramento, too.

Carmichael Dave summed it up as such:

“I’m very confident about the outcome. I just can’t see a situation where the local bidders offer a price that would possibly break an NBA record, have an arena deal already signed off by the city, only to have the NBA approve the move (to Seattle). It would be unprecedented.”

Sacramento is going to field a competitive offer on all fronts and nobody can explain why Stern would willingly add the stain of leaving Sacramento to clean one up in Seattle.

Lakers loving LeBron’s leadership in first practice together

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Although the Lakers’ first official practice of the LeBron James era was focused on defense and learning new terminology, they ended it with a good old-fashioned 3-point shooting contest.

The Lakers’ new superstar was just another teammate during the spirited back-and-forth competition Tuesday. When James wasn’t draining his own 3s, he marveled along with everybody else at the surprising perimeter prowess shown by JaVale McGee, the 7-foot veteran with exactly one 3-pointer during a game in his 10-year NBA career.

The Lakers have many weeks of work ahead to become a cohesive team assembled around James, but he can already sense they’re heading down the right path. They’re planning to have plenty of fun along the way, too.

“I’m not a very patient guy, but I understand that I have to be patient right now,” James said. “I’ve got to be patient with myself, too, because this is a new start for me. It’s my first year in a new system. I know how to play the game of basketball, but this is all new to me, too. So I have to be patient with myself, not only with my teammates.”

James was both upbeat and businesslike after his first workout under coach Luke Walton, who entered the NBA in the same draft class as James in 2003. The Lakers will hold double practices and a scrimmage on the first two days of camp leading toward their preseason debut in San Diego on Sunday night.

James intends to enjoy the process in his new city.

“We’re here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to someday hoist the trophy,” James said. “Obviously that’s the end of the road, but you have to have those types of championship habits every day, not only on the floor, but off the floor as well. … Everyone is excited to get back to work. That’s a good thing. No one is coming in today and wishing it was still summer. It’s the best time of the year. Basketball season is back up, baseball season is on its way to the playoffs, and the NFL is in Week 4. So what could you ask for as a sports fan?”

James naturally becomes the center of attention on any team, and he quickly assumed a leadership role for the Lakers. He’s also eager to see his veteran teammates assert themselves to help the Lakers’ young returning core, whether it’s Rajon Rondo instructing his fellow guards on assignments, or Lance Stephenson vocally calling out defensive instructions in half-court work.

“He’s LeBron. He’s one name,” Rondo said. “It speaks for itself. He’s been a leader and a mentor in this league for a long time, on and off the court. He has a blueprint off the court as well. So he embraces his role. He embraces all the pressure that he’s ever dealt with in his career, and he’s always risen above the occasion.”

Although Walton and James are just getting to know each other, the coach is grateful that his new star is leading by example from the opening practice.

The Lakers have lacked this level of respected on-court leadership in the two seasons since Kobe Bryant’s retirement, but LeBron and his fellow new veterans have strong ideas about how an NBA team must approach its work to be a winner.

“I could see it yesterday,” Walton said. “The way he’s approaching (practice) has changed from the pickup we were playing in the summer. It definitely set the tone. We’re on a journey that started today, and we’re very serious about the business that we got done today.”

More AP NBA: http://www.apnews.com/tag/NBA and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Sports

Dion Waiters looks a little out of shape as training camp starts (PHOTO)

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Each summer in the NBA we have to sit around and watch as players seemingly add pounds of muscle to their body. Over the course of the season, this added muscle typically melts away as players spend less time in the weight room and start running more than ever.

#MuscleWatch is a hilarious and staid part of the summer. But its cousin, Weight Watch, is a bit different.

On the flip side, some players show up in worse shape than they ended the season prior. Boris Diaw used to be the king of the early fall extra poundage. Now it appears that Miami Heat wing Dion Waiters is carrying a little bit of baggage with him as he starts training camp.

When Waiters’ headshot was published this week, Twitter had a bit of a field day with it.

Via Twitter:

This is not to body shame Waiters in anyway of course. As an athlete, his body is up for intense scrutiny with regard to his readiness for the season. And, how Waiters looks heading into training camp is markedly different than how he looked last summer.

No doubt when training camp starts, Waiters will get himself into shape and he will be ready to play by the time games start in October. Still, it’s always shocking to see a professional athlete add some lbs.

Damian Lillard says he started breaking Twitter news to put the ‘shoe on the other foot’

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Damian Lillard surprised us all this summer when he shockingly started tweeting out new destinations for media members as they changed jobs. It was a twist on the typical script, which would normally see journalists break news about athletes.

It was a fun moment on social media, and most people sort of shrugged it off as Lillard reporting information fed to him by members of the media who could be considered his friends.

Left unsaid was the place Lillard’s newsbreaking had with regard to the natural opposition some NBA players feel toward the media. No doubt Lillard getting to break some news instead of having news broken about him gave him some kind of satisfaction. While speaking to The Athletic’s Sam Amick this week, Lillard said as much.

Via The Athletic:

It was just a case of putting the shoe on the other foot. I think there’s a lot of stuff that we go through as players, or a story might come out that might have a little bit of truth, but somebody adds (to it) or put their own spin on it or whatever. We don’t have a chance to say, ‘No, I don’t want that to get out. Yeah, it happened, or yeah that’s accurate but I don’t really want that story to be told at the moment. I don’t want to have to deal with that right now. Our situation is just not considered a lot of times.

I’m just basically showing you how it feels to be vulnerable, I guess, or to be at somebody else’s mercy about something that you might not want out.

… It’s almost like anybody can report anything now. I’m not a journalist, I’ve never done this before, but all of a sudden I can report something and it’s fair game, you know what I’m saying? Why is that even respected? Now if it was CJ, that’s one thing, he went to school for journalism, and he does that. He does podcasts, and he writes articles and things like that. I don’t, so that was part of it. Anybody can drop this information.

Lillard isn’t exactly wrong here. Modern journalism is so skewed from what it once was, it’s hard for those in the industry to even keep track of who is reliable and who is not. The availability of social media and mobile audio and visual capture means that just about every citizen can relay first-hand information quickly. And while it’s a bit of a stretch for Lillard to say that his teammate CJ McCollum is more journalistically reliable than he is, the Blazers star seemingly becoming frustrated with the idea of journalism-as-horsetrading strikes home.

As professional sports across the world have grown in value, and truly become multibillion-dollar businesses, so too has the public relations aspect of professional sports. Beat reporters no longer fly on team planes, and everyone from the athletes to the teams and the agents want to try to control the message. That has driven a wedge between sports journalists and athletes in today’s coverage.

Even Lillard’s description of his reason for dropping his information came, in part, from a stated desire for better public relations management. That is, that stories often are not narrowed to information the athlete wants available, and may come at inconventient time for athletes.

Of course, “I don’t really want that story to be told at the moment” isn’t a good reason not to publish something. That’s what delineates journalists from public relations. But in an era where high-powered media entities wield power with information that is, altruistically, perhaps more trivial than necessary, it seems possible that the pillar on which journalistic ethics once stood has slowly begun to erode. If that’s the case, it’s reasonable to think there are times which you can’t blame players on being upset with writers.

Who knows if Lillard will continue to dip his toes in the news breaking pool? The season is not far away, and he’s probably too busy working out.

Report: Cavaliers, Larry Nance Jr. talking contract extension

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When the Cavaliers made the trade deadline deal with the Lakers last February, they got Larry Nance Jr. (the son of a Cavs legend) and Jordan Clarkson (surrendering Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas and a 2018 1st round draft pick that became Moritz Wagner).

Nance is the one the Cavaliers seem intent on keeping, and they may extend him, reports Tom Withers of the Associated Press.

This seems like a good fit for both sides, if they can find a number that works. The Cavaliers are committed to not bottoming out right now — which is why Kevin Love got a new massive contract — and Nance fits with that.

This is not going to be a max contract, but Nance has made it clear he likes playing in Cleveland and wants to stay. After he came over last season he averaged 8.9 points on 55 percent shooting, 7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Those numbers could go up with LeBron James no longer in the picture.