The situation has somehow reverted to what we thought ended five weeks ago: everyone is on board with a solid, sane plan to build a new entertainment and sports complex in downtown Sacramento. Everyone ... except for the Maloofs. When the parties hooked up in Orlando, it was with the potential for the Maloofs to flush everything looming gloomily over the proceedings. Now, when we have a deal, City Council approval and good feelings, those dark clouds are back. Based on what was said at Tuesday's City Council meeting, unless George Maloof ends his opposition to the team supplying already agreed-upon pre-development funds or the NBA finds a way around it, the deal is under immediate threat.
But it comes down to exactly the same thing as it came down to during All-Star Weekend: the Maloofs need to pony up, or they need to GTFO and leave the Kings where they found them. In February, the brothers told every camera they could find that they were thrilled to reach a deal, that they wanted to stay in Sacramento all along. The deal hasn't changed. The city isn't asking for one extra dime than what the Maloofs committed to in Orlando. There's no excuse whatsoever to piss on the deal now. It's the same deal!
When Kevin Johnson expressed his frustration with the latest ordeal, I felt empathy. KJ is in this like we are in this, only with much more power and knowledge of the back-channel chatter. What I mean is that he's coming from our angle, the one that holds a new arena anchored by the Sacramento Kings as a holy grail. It was when Darrell Steinberg came out blazing on the Maloofs that turned my head. Steinberg isn't just a local politician or legislative power broker. In the short break between his Assembly tenure and Senate run, he served as a lawyer for the Maloofs on the Measure Q & R disaster! He's seen their ridiculous carpetbagging from the danged bird seat.
KJ had to say something at some point on Tuesday, whether it be during the day or during the council meeting. Steinberg didn't. He could have deferred. But he struck hard. Sacramento hasn't backed down once in this adventure. Sacramento isn't backing down now. I like to think that Steinberg helped KJ make sure that George Maloof understood that on Tuesday.
As always, David Stern is the keystone here. He cannot make the family sell, but he can sure as snot make things very uncomfortable. The city held up its end of the bargain, delivering a deal by the league's deadline. The Maloofs acknowledged that. Stern acknowledged that. To allow the family is break its explicit promise and the implicit promise of the league would be incredibly embarrassing. David Stern doesn't do embarrassing.
It's time, fam. There are two suitable options left, and I'm sure we'll find a way to be happy with either one. As always: if you pony up and get this done, we'll cheer you like all of this nonsense never happened. You know it to be true. Now cut the check or find the exit.