Seattle group releases statement; forced to wait, hope for expansion

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It hurt.

For the second time in five years the NBA fans of Seattle feel like they had a team ripped away from them. This time it came when the NBA’s Board of Governors voted to reject the relocation of the Kings to Seattle. That essentially killed the bid of the Chris Hansen/Steve Ballmer group to buy the team and make them the Sonics.

Hansen put up a statement on SonicsArena.com (the site his team put together during this process).

While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today’s relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan, we do thank the league and the owners for their time and consideration and look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings.

But most of all I would like to thank everyone in Seattle who has been a part of our effort and supported our cause. Words simply can’t express how much your support has meant to me personally and to our City.…

Our day will come…and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle. I love you Seattle!

That limited partner offer is never going to happen — the other owners are not going to reject a relocation bid then let the guys bent on the relocation prop up bad owners for a couple of years by buying 20 percent of the team, all in a long-play to force a sale and relocation later. Stern said the league would push for a sale to the Sacramento group put together by that city’s mayor Kevin Johnson. That is how this ends.

So now what does Seattle do?

Wait. And pray for expansion.

Which sucks. But it’s the only options available.

Wait because there is nothing else in the short term for them to do.

“We look forward to continuing the dialogue of some type with the citizens and potential owners in Seattle but we don’t have anything concrete to support with respect to an NBA franchise in Seattle at this time,” David Stern said at his press conference.

There are no teams up for sale that can really be moved out of their market right now. The most likely option may be Milwaukee and their lease lasts to the summer of 2017 (with the goal of having an arena, or at least the plan for it in place by then). That’s four years away. Maybe something comes up before then, maybe not.

What a lot of people have called for is expansion.

Both Stern and commissioner-in-waiting Adam Silver (who will take over for Stern next February) said was that the owners talked about it generally but said they would not discuss it seriously until a new national television deal is in place.

The league hopes to open talks and get a new national television deal set this summer (even though it wouldn’t kick in until 2016).

Which means maybe in a year the owners might take up the expansion discussion again. Then there are no guarantees.

It sucks for Seattle.

There was no way Stern could phrase what he had to say Wednesday that would take the sting away from Seattle — but it didn’t help that the first words out of his mouth at the press conference were “This is going to be quick for me, I have a game to get to in Oklahoma City.” It felt like another punch to the gut.

Silver said the league wants to get back to the Seattle market. That opportunity will come down the line, by either expansion or a team up for sale that can be moved, but we are talking likely years either way.

After the last two dealings with the NBA, the question is will there be the political and community will to but together another quality bid? Will Hansen and others be up for another round?

That’s not a question anyone can answer right now with emotions high.

After Zion Williamson injury, Donovan Mitchell notes risk without reward

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Hype for rival North Carolina visiting Duke on Wednesday night was near an all-time high — secondary ticket prices were pushing Super Bowl prices. It was on national television. A lot of people were making money off of this, starting with the two universities.

Then Duke star and lock No. 1 pick Zion Williamson had to leave the game with a knee injury (later described as a knee sprain).

Utah Jazz wing Donovan Mitchell wanted to remind everyone Williamson was not among the people making money.

Luka Doncic then reminded everyone there is another path.

The NCAA makes its money off the archaic notion of amateurism, that myth fuels the profits major universities rake in off their revenue sports. Keeping that myth alive creates the underground market where players are bribed with shoe money or by boosters (or coaches) to come play at specific universities. It’s that myth that needs to die for the system to change. The issue of paying players is not a simple one — college softball players spend just as much time perfecting their sport and face the same restrictions, shouldn’t they be compensated as well? That said, there’s enough money for everyone if done right. A first step might be to allow Williamson and other stars to be able to profit from their name and likeness while in college without losing their eligibility.

Or, more basketball players may just start choosing Europe or other paths.

76ers coach Brett Brown says he doesn’t expect rookie Zhaire Smith to play in NBA this season

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Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons.

Zhaire Smith?

A few recent 76ers first-round picks missed their entire first professional season due to injury. Smith, the No. 16 pick in last year’s draft could join them.

Smith has missed the entire season so far with a broken foot then allergic reaction. He just returned to practicing with the 76ers, but maybe not in time to play for them this season.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

If the 76ers clinch their playoff seed before the regular season ends, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith plays for them. But meaningful minutes seem unlikely.

Philadelphia is trying to win now, and a rookie who entered the NBA relatively raw then missed so much time is unlikely to help.

That said, backup wings James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons aren’t exactly reliable options. If everything breaks right for Smith – essentially the opposite of his season to date – maybe, just maybe, he plays for the 76ers this season.

Warriors vs. Bucks or Raptors betting favorite to be NBA Finals matchup

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Who will we see in the NBA Finals come June?

The West looks cut and dried — if the Warriors are healthy, it’s hard to imagine any other team in that conference giving them too much trouble.

The East? That’s wide open. A good case can be made for Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, or Milwaukee finding their way in. (For a more detailed breakdown, listen to the latest PBT Podcast where Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports and myself break down the East in more detail.)

The bookmakers over at BetOnline put together these odds on potential Finals matchups, and after the first four options the odds get pretty long.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Boston Celtics vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Indiana Pacers vs Golden State Warriors 28/1
Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors 33/1
Boston Celtics vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Toronto Raptors vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Charlotte Hornets vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Detroit Pistons vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Orlando Magic vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Boston Celtics vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Toronto Raptors vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1

A few quick thoughts on that list:

• Interesting that the Sixers and Celtics are just a little behind the Bucks and Raptors in the minds of the bookmakers.

• I don’t know that I’d have Houston in front of Oklahoma City as the second-best option in the West. Not this season. The Thunder have the defense and star power to do playoff damage.

• If you’re thinking about putting money on Washington or Orlando to make the Finals — against anyone — just donate that money to charity instead. That way it will do some good.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

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Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.