For my previous entries on the Sacramento Kings, please visit HERE.
The past several days have been hectic ones for Sacramento sports fans. News broke last week during the NBA All-Star festivities that the owners of the Kings, the Maloof family, were in close negotiations with the city of Anaheim over the potential to relocate there as early as next season. Then, a few days ago, the Kings officially filed for an extension with the NBA to explore their options to move next season. Under the old deadline, any NBA team that was considering relocation for next season would have to give notice of said fact by today, March 1st, in order to move ahead with any plans to move. In response to the apparently accelerated timetable for possibly losing their team, Kings fans throughout Sacramento showed their support of their beloved franchise and their dismay over potentially losing it by posting billboards, begging that the team stay in the California state capital, and cheering their team at the top of their lungs at subsequent home games.
But it may be all for naught, as the NBA (unsurprisingly) agreed to grant the Kings an extension to the deadline, meaning that the Maloof family now has until the April 14-15 meeting of the NBA board of governors in New York City to officially file for relocation for next season. During that time, Kings management will undoubtedly be on the phone nonstop trying to drum up support among other team owners to vote in favor of moving the team, something that the Lakers and the Clippers have already expressed their strong opposition against if they try to set up shop in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Depending on how this lobbying goes, there are three options for the Kings. They can either:
- Gain enough support among NBA owners to allow relocation to Anaheim,
- Lacking support to move to the L.A. area, still gain support to relocate elsewhere, or
- Find little to no support for relocation, and thus stay in Sacramento for the next season.
While recent news has been surrounding the franchise’s apparent intentions to move to Anaheim, where they’d play alongside the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL, pressure from the Lakers and the Clippers might very well be strong enough to prevent a majority of the Board of Governors allowing a third team being added to the L.A. area. Should that happen, and if the Maloofs are convinced that they cannot stay in their current home in Sacramento, they would likely face less of a fight if they instead decided to relocate to another location. As they’ve already held conversations with San Jose, Louisville, Las Vegas, and Kansas City (which would be the ultimate irony, considering that the Kings abandoned Kansas City for Sacramento a quarter century ago), as well as several other cities that I’d consider bigger long shots than those four options, thiscould very easily be a consolation prize to the Kings ownership if they absolutely want to move by next season and don’t gain support for their apparent top choice of Anaheim.
Regardless, options 1 and 2 seem to be the most likely to occur, sad as it may be for Sacramento fans. And, as we’ve seen from recent experience, the NBA seems to be willing to drop the hammer on traditional NBA markets with outdated arenas in favor of new locations with more modern facilities available. The Seattle SuperSonics were stunningly relocated to Oklahoma City of all places a few short years ago as a result of team and league displeasure with the outdated KeyArena versus the modern Oklahoma City Arena. History could very well repeat itself, this time with the Kings and the NBA abandoning Sacramento because of the outdated Power Balance Pavilion (known as the ARCO Arena prior to today) in favor of Anaheim’s Honda Center, San Jose’s HP Pavilion, Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center (the more I see it, the more I honestly hate that name…), Kansas City’s Sprint Center, or a few other possibilities. The ultimate slap in the face would be if the Kings decided to move to Las Vegas, which doesn’t even have an NBA-caliber arena, but still remains a backup possibility given the Maloof family’s interests in the city. The only facilities that could potentially host an NBA team would both seemingly be a step down for the Kings, as the Thomas & Mack Center is even older than their current home and the MGM Grand Garden Arena would need to be heavily retrofitted for a permanent NBA team, not to mention that neither facility has sufficient luxury boxes for a modern home.
The only thing we know now is that the deadline has been extended, and Kings fans will undoubtedly have to endure another month of nonstop “will they, won’t they” talk over their home team.