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On The Maloofs' Efforts And The NBA's 'Build It Or We Will Leave' Attitude

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Henry Abbott of TrueHoop weighs in on the relocation saga. He's one of the best writers (web or otherwise) on money issues in the NBA, and he makes great points about the potential benefits of better transparency in league/team finances. But one little passage stuck out, and given Grant Napear's radio and Twittorial bleating on a similar subject, it warrants discussion.

They have tried many things that have failed. In 2006, their major play to get public support for a new stadium failed miserably at the polls.

What have the Maloofs really tried?

The Maloofs have never presented a unilateral, in-house plan for a new arena. Not once. They have done the following:

* They paid for a study of the feasibility of a retrofit of ARCO Arena. It was not feasible. This is like when I hire a contractor to tell me how much it will cost to turn my unfinished basement into a batcave. I would not expect my mortgage holder to bear this expense, nor would anyone commend me for bearing the cost.

* They negotiated with the city and county and lended support to Measures Q&R in 2006 ... briefly. The negotiations were brutally public and protracted, with the city barely meeting the deadline to get the measures on the ballot. At the campaign kickoff presser, one of the Maloof brothers announced that despite the campaign, he did not know whether the railyards were really the best place for a new arena. Before election day, due to squabbling over parking revenue, the Maloofs withdraw support for the measures. It failed miserably, and no one ever attempted public funding in Sacramento again.

* They stepped away so the NBA could work on a solution. This was seen as a good move because the Maloofs' image had been so extraordinarily poisoned by the Q&R debacle and by that unfortunate and ubiquitous Carl's Jr ad. The Maloofs apparently helped pay for John Moag's initial efforts, but the NBA took over funding completely halfway through.

That's it.

***

I don't say "that's it" to besmirch or disparage the Maloofs. I'm just saying that that is what the Maloofs have done to keep the Kings in Sacramento. I have no question they have wanted to stay. They could have filed for relocation in February 2007, after Q&R; we don't know whether they wanted to and the NBA told them no. They could have filed in 2008, 2009 or 2010. They did not.

But they haven't been trying to find a solution. There have been two serious efforts before the current Taylor/ICON feasibility study: Q&R, which the Maloofs bought it into initially and then derailed, and Moag's Convergence, which was completely dreamed up by the NBA and its chosen developer, and was insane in scope and longs in odds. The Maloofs have put objectively little effort into either.

That's the NBA's M.O. right now: cities, you're on your own. Build a gym, or we'll let your team bail. Taxpayers, build a gym at the expenses of public services, or we'll bail. Fans, spend money in addition to your tickets, parking, merchandise, concessions and time, or we'll bail.

It's hard to blame the Maloofs for carrying out the NBA's laissez-faire vision. It's impossible to credit the Maloofs for working hard to get something done in Sacramento, because the efforts just haven't been there.