Sacramento can almost breathe again

5/16/13 in NBA   |   droth   |   127 respect

Following yesterday's Board of Governors 22-8 vote to deny relocation of the Kings to Seattle, there were still some questions about what the next step would be.  In a press conference following yesterday's vote, David Stern said there was a 24-48 hour window in which he expected the Maloofs to finalize a deal with Vivek Ranadive and the Sacramento group.  

November 05, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof sits court side against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY SportsBut after years of being pulled one way then the other by the Maloof family, Sacramento knows not to celebrate before a deal is signed.  The nightmare scenario for Kings fans, besides losing the team to the Hansen-Ballmer Seattle group, is that the Maloofs would continue their Maloofery, drag out this process and end up retaining control of the team only to continue this nonsense for another season.

The NBA Board of Governors voted to block the sale to the Seattle group, but they did have any way to force the Maloofs to sell to the Sacramento group. 

For months, the Maloofs have been said that they prefer the Seattle offer over Sacramento's, leading Sacramento fans and media to believe that they hold a grudge against the city and adding to their status as public enemy number one in Sacramento.  

But yesterday they acknowledged, for the first time, that they are willing to work with the Sacramento group and Mayor Kevin Johnson commended the family for being cooperative partners in this whole drama.  And since then, reports have surfaced that the Maloofs and Ranadive have been working on a deal since even before the vote.

As someone who's followed the Maloofs and the Kings for years, it is strange to see Johnson so eager to praise the Maloofs and to deny that the Maloofs ever were unwilling to work with Sacramento.  Maybe it is just that he wants to suck up to the Maloofs so they will actually agree to a deal.  But the other possibility, and I cannot believe I'm writing this, is that the Maloofs actually aren't that bad after all.  

From their perspective, they never wanted to sell the team to anyone -- from Sacramento or anywhere else.  In previous years, they explored relocation to Anaheim and Virginia Beach because they couldn't build an arena in Sacramento.  And then, when Chris Hansen blew them out of the water with a valuation of $525 million, they changed their minds.  And, following that, they felt loyal to the agreement and made clear their intentions to follow through with the Seattle group.

That narrative actually portrays the Maloofs as rational and, weirdly, shrewd business people.

This recent attempt from both parties to help the Maloofs save face, however, is not totally convincing.  They caused last year's arena deal with Sacramento to fall apart then blamed it on the city, but their willingness to cooperate over the last few days and deal with a group that was not their initial choice is refreshing and quite surprising.  

Hopefully, as has been reported, they actually reach a deal with the Sacramento group by the end of the week and everyone can finally move on and start talking about basketball again.
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