It’s now up to David Stern to clean up the arena mess in Sacramento, a position the NBA commissioner finds himself in on Friday as he prepares to meet with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Sacramento Kings ownership, the Maloofs.
If this Board of Governors’ meeting opens with a round of handshakes it might be the last time Mayor Johnson extends his hand to the Maloofs.
On Thursday night, Johnson issued a passionate and direct letter to the Maloof family stating how the city of Sacramento will not renegotiate their proposal toward a new area deal.
For Johnson, it is up to the Kings and their ownership group to follow through on their agreement.
“Your handshake is your handshake. Your promise is your promise,” Johnson said in the letter.
“We are 100% committed to moving forward under the framework laid out in the term sheet. And there should be no expectation in (Friday’s) conversation that this deal is subject to further negotiation. In light of these facts, the ball is in your court.”
The major snag in the deal in moving forward with plans for a new arena?
The Maloofs have said they do not believe the team should pay $3.25 million in pre-development costs. The Kings view themselves as a tenant in the new building and are now taking a firm stand much to Mayor Johnson’s disgust.
“Given all that the people of Sacramento have endured and achieved on your behalf,” Johnson continued in the letter, “we deserve nothing less than a partner who will work with the city in good faith and as a true partner.”
Johnson's letter comes a week after his public comments claiming the city of Sacramento "can't be jerked around" by the Maloofs.
There was also a second letter issued, this time to Stern from two dozen of the most prominent business owners in Sacramento accusing the Maloofs of not acting in good faith and calling for the current ownership to sell the Sacramento Kings.
And here the Kings thought their 19-40 record (second worst record in the Western Conference) was ugly.
Mayor Johnson will fly to New York on Friday to meet with Stern, NBA officials and the Maloofs in an attempt to salvage whatever remains of the deal to finance a new arena in Sacramento, but it is clear Johnson would feel better off if the Maloofs were out of the picture with the Kings.
In the end, the new area is projected to cost $391 million. And the Maloofs are hung up on $3.25 million after the family has already agreed to contribute $70 million to the final cost amount.
Yet it’s not only Johnson who is calling for the Maloofs ownership ouster.
The Sacramento Bee is running an editorial piece today simply title: “NBA must find new owners for the Kings”.
“The NBA wants the team to stay in Sacramento. The region wants the Kings to stay in Sacramento, and the city has done everything and more to keep the team here,” the piece reads.
“But this three-legged stool has a creaky leg. It is the Maloofs, and only the NBA can repair it.”
Well said.But in the end, Stern can only do so much and likely won’t force the Maloofs to sell the team or demand a new ownership group take over the Kings.
If the Kings fall under new ownership, it’s up to the Maloofs to make that deal.
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