This already had the makings of one of those low-attendance NBA games with plenty of empty seats filling your television screen — a mid-week game between two struggling team, the 13-28 Phoenix Suns hosted by the 16-26 Sacramento Kings.
But this turns out to be the first Kings home game since the Maloof family confirmed the sale of the franchise to a Seattle syndicate led by Chris Hansen — a group with plans to pack up the team and move them to Seattle next season.
What is that going to mean in the arena Wednesday? Nobody really knows.
Probably not much. At least not for this game. Combine the uncertainty around the franchise with the bad teams and a Wednesday night and you most likely get really low attendance. Like you would have anyway.
Some of those in attendance will no doubt carry signs urging the NBA to keep the Kings in Sacramento. Others will have posters slamming the Maloof family. Lots of those. The fans in the building will pull for the Kings in a game they certainly can and should win.
The energy to keep the Kings in Sacramento is not in the arena. Mayor Kevin Johnson is leading the charge, putting together a group made up of big money billionaires and local investors that will make an offer to both buy the team and get a new arena built in Sacramento.
Johnson is going to take that pitch directly to the Board of Governors, a body of the owners that has to approve both the sale and the franchise relocation. Last time Johnson was before them, when the Maloofs wanted to move the franchise to Anaheim, Johnson won the day convincing the owners to wait and give Sacramento a chance to get an arena deal in place.
And they did. There was a handshake deal made with the city, AEG and Maloofs — a deal the Maloof family backed out of.
This time Johnson will have a harder sale, but to suggest he can’t do it and underestimate the man would be a mistake. There is a reason Hansen and his group are working to present and air of inevitability about the deal being approved.
How does all that translate inside the Sleep Train Arena starting Wednesday night? We will see. Just like what happens with the team.
Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.
But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.
Nick Friedell of ESPN:
I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.
LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.
This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.
The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.
Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.
LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.
The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.
But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?
How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?
In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).
Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at email@example.com.
LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.
Paul George never said that, though.
So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.
Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:
Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational
When you were just a kid
In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale
We were dreaming too.
While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival
And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.
Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.
The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too
Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?
My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?
That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?
Sam Amick of USA Today:
As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.
Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.
Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.
Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.