[UPDATED with Team Staying Put a Year:] Sacramento Kings in Serious Talks to Move to Anaheim
Meanwhile, the Sacramento City Council has moved beyond grief to the anger stage: Cap city leaders last nght discussed possible litigation against the Maloof brothers to keep the Kings.
Speaking of anger, check out this email yours truly received from a Mr. Spencer Hall . . .
Thanks, Spence. I'll make that an LA River Roadkill Royale with Cheese in honor of our new NBA team.
How many times has Orange County filed for Bankruptcy?
You should answer that question publicly before you call Sacramento, your own CAPITAL, a 'cowtown'; you little insidious creep. You are a disgrace to journalism and an embarrassment for the second rate publishing company that has the unfortunate title of being the parent to this worthless site. I hope your tap water comes from the LA river and your food, well...
John Danberg's message (essentially): Don't trust the Maloof brothers because the Kings' owners are deadbeats.
The Maloofs' comeback (essentially) Shut your piehole, Danberg!
Danberg claims in the letter a Kings move will cause the franchise to default on $77 million in loan payments owed to Sacramento. For that reason, he urged Anaheim leaders to stop negotiating with the team lest the Orange County city find itself in the same predicament. Sacramento is also seeking state legislation to stop the Kings' talks with Anaheim until the loan issue is resolved.
Calling Danberg's missive "an awful letter," Kings co-owner George Maloof warned Sacramento against "interfering with our business," saying the owners take their business "very seriously."
He added the Kings have not missed a payment to Sacramento, telling the Sacramento Bee, "We have no intention of leaving that town without paying our debt. For someone to imply that we are not going to pay our debts, it's wrong, it's ridiculous."
The deal the Anaheim council is looking at tonight calls for $50 million in bonds to be used for relocation costs and $25 million to renovate the Honda Center. The city claims taxpayer funds will not be put at risk, as increased Honda Center revenues will pay back the bonds.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking at a deal of their own--and not liking what they are seeing. ESPN.com reports the team's recent $3 billion, 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable loses value if the Kings move to Anaheim. Estimates put that loss at 10 percent, although it should also be noted the Lakers and Time Warner deny the deal's pricetag was $3 billion.
PDATE, MARCH 24, 11:18 A.M.: "It feels like a slow death," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson begins his latest blog post.
He goes on to thank the fans and groups fighting to keep the Kings, saying his heart is with him. But his head "wants this painful drama to end."
KJ is obviously ready to move on and, with a town committed to pro sports, prove to the NBA it deserves another franchise. The slow death is almost over. It's painful. But a new beginning is right around the corner," he ends the post.
Meanwhile, the mood is much rosier for Johnson's Anaheim counterpart.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has not come right out and said the city is wooing the Kings/Royals, but he's come damn near close.
Da Mayor announced at Tuesday's City Council meeting that Anaheim is busy working to land an NBA team and that the city may help to improve the Honda Center to make it more enticing to a pro ball club.
UPDATE, MARCH 22, 8:59 A.M.: Normally, an Anaheim City Council agenda item concerning the sale of bonds to fund improvements to the Honda Center would be no big whoop.
But because the Sacramento Kings are a free throw away from morphing into the Anaheim Royals, tonight's council matter has wags wagging.
Not that anything will happen.
City staff will apparently request the matter be postponed until April 12, which is a day before the current NBA season ends and the deadline for Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof to inform the league whether they're moving the franchise.
The improvements are supposedly needed to bring the Honda Center up to NBA standards when it comes to player lockers, a practice facility and storage space for Carmelo Anthony's ego.
Getting the council to float bonds might (or should) be a tall order considering Anaheim is $10 million in debt.
Then again, filling in Honda's normally dark days with NBA games should make that money back for the city in no time. If, ahem, the King Royals are even coming.
The Anaheim Royalty site is convinced they are.
The "Anaheim Royals fans' premier source for news, forums and media" has a live ticker counting down to "Anaheim Decision Day" for the Maloofs, photos like the one you see here imagining the Royals uniform, and posts giddy with anticipation of a King-sized move south.