Posted Sep 30 2010 6:31PM - Updated Oct 1 2010 8:44AM
• Start the countdown. The possibility of the Kings leaving Sacramento just became very real, if not likely, with news that the league will no longer have an active role in brokering an arena deal, a crippling blow to hopes the team and city can one day resume the love affair. Co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof take the middle road, deferring to commissioner David Stern and siding with the wishes of the majority of owners rather than making their own stand, so Stern stepping away from the table is a very meaningful moment. The breakup was never nearly as imminent as some made it seem for years, as long as the league remained adamant that the proven success of a market will stay in the fold, but that just changed.
• The other issue is the absence of a logical landing spot. Las Vegas: same arena problem. Seattle: same arena problem. Kansas City: no arena problem, but serious questions about whether the region can support a team. One member of a group that previously pursued NBA ownership said there isn't a good call out there for relocation, an undeniable factor that may have kept the Kings in the capital city this long.
• One last Kings: Good counterpoint from Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty, changed one of the best parts of one of the league's best fan sites, on the premise that the summer marked a dramatic shift in approach for Geoff Petrie and the building roster. Love the debate. But for Ziller to suggest there were doubts about the drive of former No. 1s Spencer Hawes and Quincy Douby, as is the case with 2010 lottery choice DeMarcus Cousins, is wrong. Hawes in particular arrived with a tremendous passion to play. And Douby became one of the few bad moments of Petrie's draft history because he was a 6-foot-3 shooting guard who couldn't shoot, not because of a bad motor.
• The great thing is, Carmelo Anthony made it official without making it official. Either well coached or able to figure it out on his own, Anthony had textbook dodging non-answers about his Denver future, or lack thereof, at media day. Dozens of opportunities to say he hoped to resolve the mess he created and stay, none taken. Flat out asked if he wanted to remain a Nugget, Melo, as recounted by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, paused four seconds before responding, "I never once said anything about trade talks." He didn't need to.
• Rookie mistake by Ted Leonsis, the new Wizards owner was fined $100,000 by the league for commenting on potential changes to the next salary cap, not counting the medical bill for ear-replacement surgery after Stern undoubtedly got done with the phone call to remind Leonsis to zip it regarding Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. But the implication from Leonsis is still clear: Owners need rules to save themselves from each other. This is the same Leonsis, also the owner of the hockey Capitals, who told the Associated Press last May that "I'm surprised because now I see all of the NBA financials. And I'd honestly have to say at this point in time that the NHL is stronger than the NBA, clearly because it has a CBA in place that protect owners from taking stupid pills.... There is a hard cap in the NHL. In the NBA, you can spend a lot of money and every dollar you're over this luxury tax you get fined. And there's a lot of basketball teams who are losing a lot of money."
• Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman nails it. The long stares should be on Russell Westbrook, not Kevin Durant, to gauge the next step in hopeful OKC. Durant is a known. But the extent of Westbrook's improvement after the valuable playoff experience followed by a prominent role in the world championships will play a large role in determining the extent of improvement for the Thunder.
• Phil Jackson swallowed hard and accepted the Europe trip as the Lakers' turn to play NBA ambassador, just like every other coach hates the training-camp disruption, but it's particularly unwanted this year. Andrew Bynum is out, Kobe Bryant is being held out of some practices, Lamar Odom lost a chunk of his summer rest to play for Team USA, and now the long excursion that was scheduled to begin Thursday evening with a chartered 777 bound for London. "This training camp's kind of a bust," Jackson said.
• The reaction, via e-mail and Twitter, to the supposed debate of Bynum putting a greater priority on attending the World Cup over being ready for the season was surprising. The coverage in the L.A. media prompted criticism of Bynum. In this corner, though, the response was pretty universal that it's no big deal, mostly because he earned points by playing through the knee injury in the playoffs and that November and December are not urgent times for the Lakers. All understandable points. But when did I turn 75 years old and think it's not too much to ask someone to do his best to be prepared for a season? Especially when he's making $13.7 million for the season and the guys paying the money showed an unwavering commitment in difficult times. The same was not returned.
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