The Virginia Beach relocation threat is seemingly gone ... for now. What's next for George Maloof in the ongoing saga?
Celebration over the apparent end of Virginia Beach's bid to take the Sacramento Kings must be short-lived. This is like a zombie movie. Virginia Beach has friends. We have -- err, Bob McDonnell has -- cut off Virginia Beach's head, but Anaheim, Seattle, Kansas City and quite possibly Saskatoon are shuffling toward us. This isn't over. We've just gotten the zombie closest to us, most threatening in the immediate term knocked off.
I'm really curious to see what happens next. Virginia Beach fell apart awful fast. Maybe too fast. I think many of us were skeptical Virginia Beach would work out, though I'll admit among our core group of StR/Here We Stay folks, I'm the most easily spooked. The others (especially Akis) were pretty convinced this wasn't happening. Still, I think we all expected this to die later, like in the Virginia legislature in February. That would happen too close for the Maloofs to implement a Plan B for the 2013-14 season. The relocation filing deadline is March 1, though in the past the NBA has extended that specifically for the Maloofs.
It's early December. The Maloofs can still try to make this the final season of the Sacramento Kings. They have almost three months, and maybe more, to do it. If they want to ...
Their next move -- which will, no doubt, happen entirely in the shadows -- will tell us where on the spectrum of desperation George Maloof's state of mind currently sits. I think we'd all admit that if Anaheim pops back up, desperation is thick. We know that leads to a potential war with the NBA. We know that's when Jerry Buss perks his ears up and lobbies to get that relocation fee multiplied by a factor of three. We know that's when anti-trust litigation re-enters our discourse.
But we also know Anaheim is ready to go, right now. Hell, they probably haven't even archived the lease agreement they drew up with George two years ago.
If we hear about Seattle, we're in trouble. Chris Hansen can and probably would outbid any potential Sacramento buyer. The two most frequently mentioned buyers -- Ron Burkle Tha God and King Manny -- don't have direct ties to Sacramento. So this is almost entirely a business decision. Hansen is a Seattle native. This is partly an emotional decision. In addition, Seattle is the No. 9 market in the United States, while Sacramento is just top-20. The business case is, frankly, better in Seattle, I imagine. We can hope that David Stern forces the Maloofs to give local buyers a fair shot, or engineers a deal that guarantees Seattle an expansion team if Sacramento keeps the Kings, or something. We can hope Burkle matches Hansen. But Seattle still looks like trouble. The path to victory if George turns north is not as clear as it is if he turns south.
The best resolution, of course, would be for George to stop fighting fate and either come back to the downtown arena plan or sit down with Van Dusen. Sit down himself -- don't send a representative. Go sit down with him. I'm not holding my breath, but with a second massive defeat in his bid to take the Kings out of Sacramento, maybe George will stop spitting into the wind and try to work with us.
Kevin Johnson was at Friday's game. Some 16,000 fans came out, thanks to a timely ticket giveaway to season ticket holders and sponsors by the Kings' sales staff. I like that symbolism. Virginia Beach is dead, Sacramento is back. Let's do this, George. Let's find a solution here.