Mar 3, 2011, 9:39 PM EDT
The timing is questionable. The move may leave them the third wheel in the Southern California market. They are moving to a better building than the one they are in, but it is 18 years old.
But it looks more and more like the Kings will be moving to Anaheim.
We told you already that Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson met with the Maloof Brothers that owned the Kings. Johnson’s comment to the media Thursday sounded defeated according to tweets from Scott Howard Cooper of NBA.com.
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson at news conference discussing potential Kings move: It is “more likely they’re going to be in Anaheim.”
KJ gets points for frankness. “I don’t think Sacramento can influence the outcome of their decision.” Meaning Maloof family. He’s right.
This seems to be gaining momentum despite efforts by Sacramento fans to keep the team. But this is a real risk for the Maloofs — particularly with a lockout looming and likely — something Howard-Cooper pointed out in an article.
Issue No. 1: To put hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, perhaps the entire family fortune centered on a Las Vegas casino and a basketball franchise, and move during a lockout would be more than risky. It would be reckless. What owner could possibly think it makes sense to declare a new home soon after the regular season, spend time promoting the team there … and then not play, possibly for weeks, possibly for months?
Issue No. 2: The Kings are bad now and will be bad next season. They could be better, depending on the health of Tyreke Evans, the maturity of DeMarcus Cousins and the 2011 lottery pick. But it’s hard to imagine spending big for a free agent or taking on weighty contracts in a trade. They’re 4 ½ games behind the Clippers now, even after Sacramento’s 105-99 victory Monday, but the Clippers are in much better position for a big jump in 2011-12.
The market in Southern California is a real issue. Yes it is larger, yes Orange County is always looking to define itself against Los Angeles and there could be a bump of support. The Ducks got that at first (but now they are 26th in the NHL in attendance, 23rd in percentage of the building filled). Well, there might be support until the lockout. And so long as they don’t name the team the Los Angeles Kings of Anaheim.
I’m based out of Southern California, near the Orange County border. Know two things: 1) Orange County is still Lakers country. The team’s decades of success, especially in the absence of any NFL team in the region, has made them the kings of all sports; 2) There is a real excitement and buzz around the Clippers thanks to Blake Griffin and their success this season.
The Kings will be the third wheel in this market right off the bat. Make no mistake.
I understand the need to move, but the wise play might be to let the lockout play out and give the officials and people of Sacramento another year to see if a stadium can get done there. Where the Kings are the kings of the market.
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