When Billy Hunter says that an extended NBA lockout could lead to the "forced contraction" of the Sacramento Kings, as did in an interview with ESPN.com on Friday, what he means to say is that the Maloofs are broke.
NBA teams don't pay players during the lockout, and they don't pay arena workers for game nights and practice days and everything. They aren't putting out food spreads for the media.
But they do pay executive staff and salaried business management employees. They are covering personnel costs for a goodly number of employees. They are paying interest on those season tickets that they have sold. And they are doing all of that with a tiny fraction of the income they would other be getting right now. Even a low-revenue team like the Kings would be pulling in millions per month right now.
Hunter is pushing the narrative that exists and is frequently pushed both loudly and quietly in the media: the Maloofs have made the Kings their main business, the Maloofs are broke, and the Maloofs' main business is effectively not in operation. The team is massively leveraged, and the NBA -- which already owns one team -- can ill-afford to bail out the Maloofs. Ergo, at some point, the Maloofs might go McCourt and, if the lockout still rages on at that point, the NBA may be forced to consider scrapping the franchise.
A number of smart, knowledgeable people around the game have told me no one expects the Maloofs to be the owners of the team a year from now. If the lockout is still on, will Ron Burkle still swoop in? I think so. Hunter is rustling up scare tactics that would argue otherwise.