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Is Anaheim just an 'option' for Sacramento Kings … or a destination?

Only Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof know for sure, but there are compelling reasons for them to seriously consider a move to the Honda Center . . . and valid reasons for them to keep the team in the state capital too.

February 21, 2011|Mark Heisler
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

If you have to kiss a lot of amphibians to find a prince, you have to woo a lot of NBA teams to win one's heart.

With March 1 the deadline to file for relocation, Sacramento Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof are maintaining a stony silence about their intentions.

This suggests two possibilities for Anaheim with its NBA-ready arena, after months of discussions with the Maloofs, who reportedly visited two weeks ago:

It's Plan A, with the Maloofs giving Sacramento a last chance.

It's Plan B as in Bait.

Of course, if the Maloofs don't get more than architects' drawings where they already are, they'll go to:

Plan SORM, as in Sacramento in Our Rearview Mirror.

The Maloofs appear to be open to staying or leaving, having reportedly worked out problems in the offer by Ducks owner Henry Samueli and entertaining a last arena presentation from Sacramento.

On the "leave" side is:

—The collapse of Sacramento's latest arena plan backed by Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star, after almost 10 years of talks.

—The announcement by NBA Commissioner David Stern on Saturday that he's no longer trying to keep the team in Sacramento.

"All I'll say is that we and they have tried very hard over the years to see whether a new building could be built," Stern said at his All-Star news conference.

"And with the collapse of the last attempt, which took a few years, and several million dollars, on behalf of the league I said we are not going to spend any more time on that.

"That is for the Maloofs and the people of Sacramento."

—Samueli's reported offer of a $100-million loan to cover money owed by the Kings to Sacramento and relocation costs.

On the "stay" side:

—Galvanized as never before, Sacramento officials hired developer David Taylor to compile a report on building and paying for a new arena.

Hired on Feb. 8, Taylor's company, which built Denver's Pepsi Center and Newark, N.J.'s Prudential Center, was to complete its study in 90 days.

With Anaheim in the picture, Taylor may be down to 21 days, from his hiring to March 1.

—The Maloofs' history:

Despite years of speculation they'd bolt for Las Vegas, site of the family casino, they've been steadfastly loyal.

The Maloofs are not only accessible, but, as owners go, credible.

Even if it could be only to preserve the Sacramento option, they continue to suggest they prefer to stay, referring to Anaheim as "an option."

Not that it may mean anything in the cold scheme of things, but Kings fans, who once overflowed supposedly archaic Arco Arena, are massing for a last assault on the Maloofs' heartstrings.

With one home game before March 1 — Monday against the Clippers — they organized a drive to sell the place out, with only 2,000 tickets remaining.

An organization called "Here We Stay" is trying to make up T-shirts, etc. (How about one that shows Phil Jackson with a line through him?)

"Here We Stay" is also urging fans to spread the word via the social networks that have helped topple governments . . . so it's possible a crowd of 50,000 will turn out, if only to line the roads.

Not that franchise bingo is necessarily The Right Thing as states and cities cut jobs, social services, pensions, etc.

Unfortunately, it's definitely how things work.

Seattle, the No. 15 metropolitan area, lost its NBA team to someplace in Oklahoma after failing to come up with a new arena.

AEG is planning to build a stadium here for the NFL, which isn't expanding to fill it . . . giving San Diego, Minnesota, Jacksonville and any team that wants anything a state-of-the-art, 64,000-seat sledgehammer.

A concession here and there, a 38% giveback from the players, and the NBA just may be economically viable one day.

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