Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is continuing the fight to keep the Kings
even with the odds against him. (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)
By Ben Golliver
• Las Vegas oddsmaker Bovada has set lines on whether or not the Kings will be in Sacramento to start next season. A Seattle-based group is reportedly close to an agreement to purchase the Kings from the Maloof family.
Will the Sacramento Kings franchise be based in Sacramento for the 2013-2014 Season?
• Meanwhile, Sacramento's Mayor, former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, is vowing a fight to keep the Kings on his Facebook page.
This morning I unveiled our “Playing to Win” plan which is modeled on the successful strategy used by the City of San Francisco to keep the Giants and revitalize a section of the city’s downtown. Over the next six weeks, we will put together a competitive ownership group, which will include local partners, that is committed to keeping the Kings in Sacramento and building a world-class entertainment and sports complex. This effort will culminate with Sacramento once again going before the NBA Board of Governors to demonstrate the strength of our city as an NBA market and the unique opportunity the Kings have to thrive in our community.
Speaking at the annual State of Downtown breakfast on Tuesday, Johnson said he has received approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counteroffer to the league from buyers who would keep the team in Sacramento. He said the city is in a "six-week sprint" to put together a proposal for the NBA's Board of Governors to consider over a potential sale and relocation to Seattle.
The league's deadline for teams to apply for a move for the next season is March 1, though that has been extended each of the last two years for the Kings. And both times, Johnson — a former NBA All-Star — has convinced the league that Sacramento could help fix the franchise's financial woes and secure its long-term home in a new arena.
"We want this to be the final act of a saga that's gone on for far too long," Johnson said.
• Aaron Bruski of ProBasketballTalk with a full rundown of Johnson's efforts, including a "Here We Buy" movement to demonstrate fan support.
Kevin Johnson is not going to make that presentation without having owners in place that meet the shared criteria of both his camp and the NBA office. He will come boasting a ravenous No. 20 television marketplace with some advantages and disadvantages compared to Seattle, but nobody will deny Sacramento’s appetite for NBA basketball.
In 24 hours since announcing their grassroots effort, Here We Buy has received pledges totaling nearly $10 million from local individuals and businesses toward season tickets under the new ownership group.
Johnson will come armed with the ability to force the Maloofs into a lame duck season if he has to, but mostly he will arrive at that meeting with yet another stirring example of his city stepping up with all odds against it.
• Warriors guard Stephen Curry, a candidate to make his first All-Star Game this season, stopped by SI.com's Hot Clicks for a quick-hitting interview.
Hot Clicks: Most annoying question reporters ask you?
Curry: "Hows your ankle?"
• Pacers center Roy Hibbert incentivized his teammates to play tough defense in garbage time, according to the Associated Press.
Roy Hibbert won a basketball game Tuesday night but lost $500.
In the waning minutes of a blowout victory, Hibbert told the final five Indiana Pacers left on the floor he'd pay them $100 each if they kept the Charlotte Bobcats from scoring 80 points.
Pay up, Roy. "Yeah, I'm a man of my word," Hibbert said. "A Hibbert always pays his debts. ... I guess I have to go find an ATM."
• Ian Begley of ESPNNY.com reports that the Knicks fear Rasheed Wallace might not be able to return to the court this season.
As the uncertainty surrounding Rasheed Wallace's left foot injury lingers, members of the New York Knicks organization fear Wallace will be out for an extended period of time, possibly for the entire season, two league sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
Wallace has been out since Dec. 15 with a stress reaction in his left foot.
• Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones runs downs the Grizzlies' director of promotions Jason Potter and the team's disc jockeys, known for their unique in-game music selections.
I figured the surge in awesome left-field music selections at FedEx couldn’t just be by accident, so I tracked down Jason Potter, the Grizzlies’ Director of Promotions and Event Presentation. Unsurprisingly, he sounded like he’d been waiting for someone to come and ask him about all the awesome music the stadium’s been playing. “I think the in-play music started a lot in the NBA as kind of a differentiated thing, but it got homogenized, and I think a lot of the fans tuned it out,” Potter says. “We challenged the guys to have some fun with it.”
“The guys” at FedExForum are Nathan Black, the Forum’s official in-house DJ, and Justin Baker, the Click Effects Operator. Black, who has been with the Grizzlies since they came to Memphis in 2001, handles the music for the timeouts and halftime and pre-and-post-game, basically any time except for when the ball is in play. He’s the guy who has made songs like Tag Team’s “Whoomp! There It Is” and The Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” FedEx fixtures, and who cemented DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” (with a special Grizzlies-specific verse from Memphis rapper Freesol) as the Grizzlies’ signature victory song.
• Josh Smith, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, was suspended for one game by the Hawks for "conduct detrimental to the team" after a disagreement at practice. His agent tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that he's not requesting a trade but that the situation isn't ideal.
Josh Smith's agent spoke with Hawks general manager Danny Ferry Wednesday to discuss what he characterized as "a lot of frustration" with the team's recent spiral, but stopped short of making a trade request.
"As far as moving forward and whatever changes will be made, that's more so management's job to field those calls and make the decisions they feel like are best to move forward," Smith's agent, Wallace Prather, told CBSSports.com.
"I want to be clear that I'm not pushing a trade," Prather said. "This is not a trade request or anything, but there are frustrations in Atlanta."
• Shortly after Lakers guard Kobe Bryant finally joined Twitter, former NBA player Brian Scalabrine hops on the bandwagon too.
• Dan Devine at Ball Don't Lie explores Kevin Durant's recent rise in technical fouls and the scolding he received from his grandmother.
• Tzvi Twersky of SlamOnline.com interviews Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala.
SLAM: Along the same lines, I know you don’t drink too much alcohol. I also know, from hearing it around the League, that you counsel young guys to watch their alcohol intake for performance and personal reasons. Is that something you’ve always felt a certain way about it or is it a more recent thing?
AI: I don’t know where it came from, but I was just never a drinker. I’ve had peer pressure, people trying to get me to drink in college and in the League, and I just never got a hold of it. It can be special occasions, New Year’s or whatever, and my teammates will be like, ‘Why don’t you have just one drink?’ I’m at the point now where it’s been years since I even played around with a drink. I used to joke with my mom and touch my lip to the alcohol, and she would laugh at me. I just don’t drink. It’s come to a point now where I’ve gone this long with being disciplined, I might as well just keep it going.
I try to say the same thing to my rookies. You know, just be careful. Even when I look at players, I can tell by their body type who eats well, who drinks, who’s fit. I can tell these things by just looking at your body.
• Bucks center Samuel Dalembert lets off some steam about former coach Scott Skiles, who parted ways with the organization earlier this month.
After the game in Chicago, you said Skiles had attacked your integrity in that talk. Can you elaborate?
SD: He told me some different things and I explained to him that I’m a happy person. And the reason I’m happy is I grateful for coming from where I came from, Haiti, and I’m grateful for every single day of my life. I’m grateful to wake up and see I’m able to have a home here, a home there and be able to help so many kids go to school back home (through his foundation) and help my family. For that, it’s a blessing. To me, being a happy person, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Can you be more specific about what Skiles said that upset you?
SD: No, I really don’t want to go into detail. I don’t want to go into it because it really hurt me. I had to express myself. I had to let him know where I’m coming from, the root of who I am today, what is defining me. It’s my country defining me. Anybody who knows me, you can ask any of my teammates, I am the most enthusiastic, happy person coming in the morning. I’m the player where I am always very respectful. I don’t know what happened between us. I’m not going to say that conversation was 100 percent the reason for what happened (not him being demoted) but for some reason there was nothing said to me again and everything went downhill. There was no explanation. There was no conversation. Nothing was said to me. He didn’t say, ‘Hey, this is what I want you to focus on or anything like that.’
It wasn’t just me. Other guys were going through the same thing with him, guys who have been here way before me. So you can only imagine what they were going through. For me, it was new. I never got a chance to know him or what he didn’t like about me.
• Rockets rookie guard Royce White, in a teaser for an interview with ESPN's Outside The Lines, defends himself: "I'm only 'high-maintenance' because you're uneducated."
• Marc Spears asks Warriors coach Mark Jackson to explain his coaching philosophy.
"I'm never going to hang them out to dry," Jackson said. "I'm never going to point the finger. I'm going to tell the truth.
"I never got it, even as a player, how a coach can cuss a player out or disrespect him and I'm a grown man with a wife and kids. But I'm out of line if I do the same thing to you? You can make the point just by talking to me.
"And I think many times coaches have gone over the line like there are no rules. I don't conduct my daily life that way so I'm not going to conduct my job that way. I got too much love and respect for my guys to be disrespectful in any way. They appreciate it, respect it and will run through a wall because they know I care about them."