Nowhere is a gift and a curse.
The Sacramento Kings are going nowhere.
The Sacramento Kings are going nowhere.
It's not everyday that you can see Rome crumble. The velocity at which the Kings' arena deal ruined itself was impressive, really. To hear the Maloofs' hired assassins tear down our city and its deal was both compelling and cringe-worthy. To hear an economist with no experience in this deal, a man hired 48 hours before the fateful press conference, tell us that the deal would put Sacramento on the edge of financial ruin -- it sounded like the Maloofs hired an economist from the Bee comment section! (Even better, that economist, Chris Thornberg, is actually from Anaheim. Go figure.)
George Maloof's insulted profile at the press conference was so, so insulting. When a reporter asked the extraordinarily fair question of whether the Maloofs would now seek to relocate the team, Maloof seriously responded with a "Why would you even bring that up?" Oh, I don't know. Maybe because the team tried to leave a year ago and stayed only to hear out this plan. And the plan is dead, because you killed it. That's why we're curious as to what you'll do next.
David Stern didn't bring good news when he came up to the podium, but he did make it clear that Sacramento had done its part, that the Maloofs killed the deal (as was what he called "their prerogative") and that he was not particularly pleased about what the family had done. He certainly made it clear that relocation is not an immediate option -- the Kings will be in Power Balance Pavilion to open next season -- and that further decisions would be left to the NBA committees that handle such matters.
For his part, KJ shot down the renovation idea, which has been shot down by the Maloofs themselves for years and years. Without city participation, it's not happening. The Maloofs have made clear time and again that they do not have any money. They can crow about their financial health all they want, but they have not once shown any ability to convince anyone that they have any money. They have an insultingly low NBA payroll (front office and coaching staff included), they balked at basic items in the term sheet like $3.2 million of pre-development fees and, as Stern revealed, they would have borrowed from the NBA $67 million of their commitment to the arena. From what I can gather from Stern's comments, the NBA agreed to cover the remaining $7 million of their contribution. They were too broke to take a deal with no up-front costs! They were too broke to spend the NBA's money!
So nowhere is the only place left to go. The city's interest in developing an arena is going nowhere. There's no way anyone at the city can use more political capital in any deal that includes the Maloofs, and since the very difficult arena plan just negotiated and approved by City Council needed that private contribution, it's hard if not impossible to imagine an alternative proposal that does not include the private contribution or a general tax. Kevin Johnson is essentially done developing an arena, finished before he got to begin.
Nowhere is the only place left to go for the league. As Stern said, there's nothing left for the NBA to do. While questions remain about George Maloof's accusation that the city didn't respond to the team's concerns -- Stern and KJ both appeared flummoxed at the suggestion -- all indications are that the league really did go above and beyond to help Sacramento get this done. Stern washed his hands of the Sacramento situation back when the Cal Expo deal went up in flames. The commissioner only came back to the table when KJ convinced him to. I don't think there's a third act that gets Stern back into a lead role in the near future. He's given all that he can, and it's been in vain.
And in the most literal sense, nowhere is the only place left to go for the Maloofs. Let us all remember why we're in this position in the first place: the Maloofs have screamed from the mountaintops that Power Balance Pavilion is a building unsuitable for professional sports and top-level entertainment. Guess where the Maloofs are now stuck for the foreseeable future? Power Balance Pavilion. This whole nightmare rewinds the clock two years, basically, back to when the Cal Expo deal fell apart, with two differences: the city is no longer a partner so downtown is dead, and relocation is off the table, at least for the medium term. The Maloofs' own actions have dug them in deeper in the last place they want to be: 1 Sports Parkway in Sacramento. There's nowhere left to go.
And if there's nowhere left to go for the Maloofs, the Kings are going nowhere. And that's what we care about the most, right? The Kings. The players. The games. The ups and downs and downs and downs and really there are so many downs. The Maloofs have been broke for years now, waiting for salvation in the form of a new collective bargaining agreement and arena. Welp, they got a new CBA and didn't spend a few bucks more than the minimum payroll. They aren't getting an arena. As much as I'd like to convince everyone to continue to attend games, it's not going to happen. People are tearing up their tickets, and I can hardly blame them. Revenue will be way down next year, and I get the sense that the stream of season ticket renewals is about the stop completely.
All plausible logic indicates that the Maloofs are still broke. They won't be making a bunch off of the Kings because they have alienated the fan base and all community allies. They have no future anywhere. So given that, what makes us think the story on the court will be any different? We have no reason to believe that the Maloofs will invest one dollar more than required in this team. Ergo, the team will almost assuredly continue to stink.
As fans, all of our promised sunrises -- a new arena, a long-term commitment in Sacramento, a good team -- are shrouded in the darkness of nowhere. This, my friends, is as bleak as it gets as a sports fan.