30Q asks the important questions about the Kings all through September.
If, after the past two years, you still want to keep Basketball The Business separate from Basketball The Game, you're hopelessly romantic. It's all about the money, always.
The very existence of the Sacramento Kings will become a business question more this year than any since 1984. The Maloofs stated publicly in March 2009 -- when the league officials unveiled their plan for a Cal Expo arena -- that they'd like to see progress in one year's time. We're halfway through the period at this point ... and the economy's still bad, development is molasses slow, cash is hard to come by and we haven't heard anything beyond "This is a big project" from the builders and investors John Moag seeks. This arena remains an uphill battle.
Suppose there is little progress by February. The end of that month signals the deadline for an NBA team to file for relocation for the 2010-11 season. We could see Anaheim or Kansas City swoop in on the Kings, offer up a lucrative lease deal for their extant arenas, and get the Maloofs to bite. Or, Moag (an NBA rep leading the charge here in Sacramento) could signal progress, encourage another year of patience, and keep Sacramento viable on more year.
Will anything that happens on the court affect any of this? Chris Paul arguably saved New Orleans's attendance two years ago, boosting the ticket average high enough to set off some clauses making it more difficult for the franchise to extricate itself from N.O. Paul, however, was a multi-year pro at that point, and remains one of the most transformative young players in the league. Tyreke Evans is not quite there. Kevin Martin is not quite there. The Kings won't likely threaten for the playoffs, and attendance won't be great.
So this fate of the Sacramento Kings is left to suits and money men, to the league's bidders, the team's owners and the folks who make their money building things. I'm not optimstic progress will be swift, though I hold out hope Moag can keep the Maloofs from filing for relocation. Until there's a deal, hope's all we got.