Maloofs come up with “backup plan” to help Seattle group that also will get rejected

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Give credit to Chris Hansen and his Seattle group — as well as the Maloof family who want to sell the Kings to them — because they have not given up.

After the NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously to reject the idea of moving the Sacramento Kings to Seattle — essentially killing the sale of the team to the Hansen’s Seattle group — most groups would have retreated to fight another day.

This group didn’t. First Hansen’s team– which incudes Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, who may be taking a larger role with the group — upped its valuation and bid for the team by $75 million.

Then they worked out a “backup plan” with the Maloofs, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Instead, the cash-strapped Maloofs have made a “backup” agreement with the Hansen-Ballmer group to sell it 20 percent of the team for $125 million to allow the Maloofs to continue to operate the franchise….

Sources said that new proposal also included a $115 million offer to owners as a relocation fee, which would amount to about $4 million per team. By comparison, in 2008 when the Oklahoma moved from Seattle, they paid a $30 million total fee to the other owners.

To consider these incredible new figures, the NBA relocation committee is planning to re-evaluate the Hansen-Ballmer offer and has scheduled another meeting ahead of next Tuesday’s full owners meeting in Dallas, sources said.

It’s an interesting plan… but it’s not going to work.

Well, unless the relocation committee changes its mind when it talks, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Their vote was always about what Sacramento did right in putting together a counter offer led by Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadive, professional leagues want cities that fight to keep their teams. It wasn’t about Seattle, other than they were good leverage.

The big problem with this “backup plan” is the majority of NBA owners have to approve the sale of even a minority of any team. And there is no way the owners are going to approve a sale of 20 percent of a team to a group clearly looking to move the team out of town when they have rejected that move already.

The Maloofs are under no legal obligation to sell their team to the Sacramento group. However, the family is reportedly cash strapped so they likely will have no choice eventually, especially if they can’t get a cash infusion from the Seattle group.

If you think what the Seattle group is trying will work, I think the penultimate paragraph of Windhost’s article sums up neatly why I would argue it will not.

Throughout this tedious process, the Maloofs and the Hansen-Ballmer group have worked without involving the league office and powerful NBA commissioner David Stern. Meanwhile, the Sacramento group and Mayor Kevin Johnson have worked with Stern every step of the way. That partnership seems to have helped the city and Ranadive get into favorable position with other owners.

And what David Stern wants….

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.

Luka Doncic named EuroLeague MVP at age 19

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Luka Doncic, the likely top two pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has led his Real Madrid team to the EuroLeague finals at age 19.

Now he has been named the youngest player ever win the EuroLeague MVP.

For those unfamiliar, EuroLeague is the equivalent of the Champions League in soccer — the very best club teams from around the continent face off against each other. On this biggest of European stages, Doncic has been a force. He is a gifted passer with great court vision. He can take his man off the dribble. He can hit threes. And he knows how to be a floor general and run a game. Did we mention he’s just 19?

Doncic said before the start of EuroLeague that he hasn’t decided what he is going to do about coming to the NBA or going back to Real Madrid. Don’t buy it. This is like asking a major college basketball star right before the NCAA Tournament if he is coming back to “State U” next year, they don’t want to say “no” right before the tourney so they give a non-committal answer. Same here. He’s not leaving millions on the table, he’ll be in the NBA next season.

And he’ll bee good.

Playoff losses wearing on LeBron James: ‘I lose sleep’

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Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost one game before reaching the NBA Finals. The season before that, two. The season before that also two. In Miami before that, the last couple of years they went to the Finals the Heat lost three and four games before reaching the Finals.

This year, the Cavaliers have lost five games already and find themselves down 0-2 to the Boston Celtics heading into Game 3 Saturday night in Cleveland.

The losses do weigh on LeBron, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I mean, I lose sleep,” James said after shootaround Saturday morning. “I mean, at the end of the day, when you lose any game in the postseason, [you lose sleep], so it’s never comfort. Playoffs is never comfort. There’s nothing about the playoffs that’s comfortable until you either win it all or you lose and go into the summer.

“So, for me, it’s always [a] day-to-day grind to figure out ways that you can be better.”

Cleveland has a lot to figure out to win the next two games because if they don’t and go down 3-1 in this series, it’s hard to envision how LeBron can drag this roster back to the Finals (what would be his eighth straight trip).

Offensively Cleveland has to get consistent play from guys other than LeBron (and to a lesser extent, Kevin Love) — J.R. Smith has been awful and needs to find a rhythm at home, George Hill needs to make some plays, Kyle Korver needs to get open and knock down some looks, and some help from the bench is needed.

But that’s not even the end of the floor that is the Cavs real problem. Defensively the Cavaliers recognition and communication has been dreadful, and the passing and player movement of the Celtics has carved them up. Cleveland has outscored teams and not defended all that well for a long time now — that’s how they made the Finals a season ago — but it’s not enough now. The offense and LeBron can’t carry them all the way.

We’ll see after Game 3 if LeBron is going to be able to get any sleep Saturday night.

Bulls’ Paul Zipser has surgery to repair broken left foot

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CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls forward Paul Zipser has had surgery to repair a broken left foot.

The team said Friday the operation was performed in his native Germany. The Bulls gave no timetable for his recovery.

Zipser averaged 4.0 points in 54 appearances before sitting out the final nine games last season.