Scott Howard-Cooper's post on Basketball | Latest updates on Sulia
The great people of Sacramento have a lot to worry about, but this so-called Maloof deadline is not one of them:
The Sacramento Bee reported this afternoon that the Kings owners have given the group from Sacramento trying to roadblock Seattle until Friday at 5 p.m. to submit a written backup offer to buy the team in the event the NBA turns down the Seattle bid. What the Bee does not report is what happens if mayor Kevin Johnson, Mark Mastrov, Vivek Ranadive et al miss the deadline.
It's great strategy by the Maloofs, presumably as a coordinated effort, or at the very least in consultation, with the Seattle group -- give Sacramento one more item it has to deal with while playing catch up, sometimes awkwardly, in the final days before a possible vote by the Board of Governors. And it's the latest very clear sign the Maloofs are digging in and willing to show their teeth. But there's no there there.
If the Board of Governors denies Seattle -- IF -- the Kings stay in Sacramento, no matter who is the owner. The vote on Seattle relocation is essentially a vote on whether the league believes in a future in the California capital. The Maloofs can keep the team, the Maloofs can sell, but Johnson got the result he wanted. It might not be with the owners he wants, but Sacramento still has the NBA in that scenario, and that is the bottom-line monster victory.
The deadline is a negotiating tactic. If it's missed, it will not signify a permanent end to negotiations. It might not even signify an end for the month if the governors turn down Seattle. (If Seattle is approved, of course, everything else become moot.)
I wrote weeks ago that future ownership of the Kings in Sacramento will still go through the Maloofs if Seattle losses. A lot of people in Sacramento refused to believe it, but the story today is another reminder. More importantly, Johnson knows it, one of the reasons, I believe, his tone has turned much more complimentary toward the family over time. KJ told me he is simply trying to give the family due credit for the many positives they brought to the city, a reminder that was long overdue but unpopular to note in town.
The unavoidable truth is that the Maloofs and Sacramento will still need each if Seattle is denied. If the Maloofs want to get the prorated equivalent of the biggest sale in NBA history for their shares, deadlines have to be dropped or negotations have to be started with new parties. If Sacramento wants someone else to own the team, they have to go tthrough the Maloofs. As always.