Of course, when I’m at my lowest point in this whole Sonics/Kings situation last Friday, later that same day news comes out that the Hansen/Ballmer group increased their offer to the Maloofs. The overall valuation of the team increased by $25 million.
Now, don’t take the mocking tone of the title of this post as me taking this as anything but a positive. Indeed, I’m happy and eternally grateful that the Seattle ownership group hasn’t just resigned themselves to Sacramento walking away without a fight. It’s encouraging to know we’re not dealing with hard-liners, who draw a line in the sand once they’ve made their initial effort to get a team. These things are constantly changing and require a lot of flexibility. I’m glad they can see that and adjusted their strategy accordingly.
Up until the last week or so, the Seattle side of this fight had been in the driver’s seat. They’ve dictated the tempo, and it has been up to Sacramento to play catch-up. To their credit, Sacramento caught up. Which, unfortunately, in this case, catching up is all they really have to do. Tie goes to the runner in this game, Sacramento chopped a bouncer to the short stop, and they’ve got wheels running up the first base line. If Seattle did nothing, if they left their offer as is, if they simply made it an argument about the two cities, then simply put, Seattle was going to lose.
An excellent article came out on SI.com just after Hansen & Ballmer increased its offer. It went into great detail about Seattle’s presentation to the NBA a couple weeks ago. Apparently, the Seattle group dug into the city of Sacramento, taking shots at their economy (struggling, while Seattle’s is booming), at their ability to get an arena built within their promised three years (more like six years, if other recently-built California stadia are any indication), and the fact that Sacramento would need to rely on bailouts from NBA revenue-sharing. On the one hand, I’m glad they didn’t walk into that meeting solely extolling the virtues of Seattle; taking shots at the other side was definitely warranted if you want to paint the full picture of this deal. On the other hand, though, I doubt those arguments would’ve been enough to tip the scales in Seattle’s favor.
We needed an ace up our sleeve. Increasing the offer was that ace.
Make no mistake, this is something Seattle HAD to do. It further increases the value of the Kings – which further increases the value of every other franchise in the NBA – so that’s an obvious plus. But, it also says a lot more about their desire to be owners and Seattle’s hunger for professional basketball. No, we won’t go quietly. No, we won’t simply be used as the scary boogeyman to keep other city governments in line.
It says we belong here! We deserve the NBA. In fact, the NBA should BE so lucky as to have this ownership group and this city attached to its organization!
What Sacramento has done should be commended. Hell, I think they deserve to be rewarded for all they’ve done in such a short time. But, Seattle deserves a reward too. Now is the time. If I had it my way, both cities would get what they want: Sacramento would keep the stinky ol’ Kings and Seattle would get a brand spankin’ new franchise. But, by no means should the NBA keep the Kings in Sacramento and give Seattle nothing.
Of course, “should” is the key word in that sentence. Will they keep the Kings in Sacramento? My gut still points to Yes, they will. But, after my confidence was at an all-time low last Friday morning (hovering right around 0% that Seattle would get the Kings), this offer increase – combined with all the arguments in that SI.com article – has me edging ever-so-close to 50% that Seattle will get the Kings. I’d say I’m 51/49 in favor of Sacramento. I guess we’ll see.