The NBA Kings are "seriously considering the possibility of applying to the NBA by the league's March 1 deadline for relocation to Anaheim for next season," according to sources cited by Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Kings "haven't made a final decision," but sources said that team officials "have been in Orange County, Calif., this month to gather more first-hand data on the feasibility and potential obstacles involved in trying to move to Anaheim's Honda Center." NBA Commissioner David Stern "confirmed for the first time Saturday night at his annual All-Star Weekend news conference that the Kings have had discussions with Anaheim officials about a possible move." Kings co-Owner Joe Maloof did not mention any specifics but said, "We have to look at all of our options at this point. But we also want to concentrate on our team right now. Any of the arena stuff, we'll talk about that later." Sources said that "with no NBA-ready arena for the Kings to move into in the Maloofs' home base of Las Vegas," Anaheim "holds the greatest appeal to the Kings." Stern confirmed that the league "no longer has an active role in trying to keep the team in Sacramento after originally backing the efforts of Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson ... to find a solution to the arena issue." Stein noted among the "issues that could dissuade the Kings from making the relocation request before next season's deadline in 10 days are the millions still owed by the Maloofs to the city of Sacramento in loans and the behind-the-scenes resistance they could potentially receive" from the Lakers and Clippers. The Kings "would likely need favorable loan and lease terms in Anaheim to mitigate those financial obligations and the franchise might still face opposition from the Lakers and Clippers" (ESPN.com, 2/20).
CALIFORNIA LOVE? In L.A., Broderick Turner notes, "How this affects the Lakers and Clippers is not quite known, but neither team is overly excited about the possibility of the Kings playing about 30 miles from Staples Center." Lakers Owner Jerry Buss and Clippers Owner Donald Sterling "would probably have a lot to say about the Kings move, but it would take a majority of the 30 NBA team owners -- at least 16 -- to approve the relocation." And there "could be a relocation fee that the Kings would have to pay" (L.A. TIMES, 2/21). In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote she gets the "sense that while the league probably would approve the move, the higher-ups aren't thrilled about the prospect of (a) abandoning the 20th largest media market; (b) adding a third NBA team in Southern California and (c) having to deal with all this with a lockout looming" (SACBEE.com, 2/19). In California, Jeff Miller writes the Lakers "dominate the Southland," and it would take "years of achievement for the Kings or any NBA team in O.C. to escape the Lakers' spell." However, the Lakers "aren't Orange County any more than the Dodgers are Orange County, any more than the Angels are L.A. County" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/21).
ONE MORE TRY: The SACRAMENTO BEE's Voisin wrote, "Within days, there is a very real possibility Sacramento will become the next Seattle." If the "decades-long relationship between the Maloofs and the city hadn't gone south at some point, if the brothers didn't feel unloved, unappreciated and unwanted, justified or otherwise," the new arena conversation initiated by Johnson, developer David Taylor and officials from architecture firm ICON "would be receiving a prolonged and legitimate look." Voisin: "They would give us more time, give us one more long shot. They should, anyway. They need us. We need them more. The Kings are owned by the Maloofs, but they belong to Sacramento" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/20). Johnson said that he "intends to move forward with efforts to build a sports and entertainment arena." He said that he "would continue his efforts to get a facility built even if the Kings left town." A rep for Taylor said that the group "has been in contact with Kings officials but has not yet set up a meeting to discuss the financing for a Sacramento arena" (Tony Bizjak, SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/21).