The Sacramento Kings are a mess. There’s no two ways about it.
The Maloof family still owns the team, but there is a deal in place with a Seattle group that wants to move the club to the Emerald City for next season. They’ve already filed with the league to do so.
But Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson—yes, the former Phoenix Suns star—is trying to keep the team in California.
While it was assumed when the proposed sale was reported last month that the move to Seattle was a done deal, Commissioner David Stern said during All-Star weekend on Saturday in Houston that it was plausible that the franchise could, in fact, remain in Sacramento.
That could happen if Johnson produces an offer that would be considered “fair and competitive,” according to Aaron Bruski of NBCSports.com’s Pro Basketball Talk. Such an offer would include significant public money for a new arena in Sacramento.
So while all this is going on, the Maloofs continue to run the Kings with the single-mindedness with which Scrooge McDuck held onto his fortune.
Think of those commercials for some of those shadier used-car dealers: “Everything must go! No reasonable offer refused!”
Except it now appears the Maloofs are apparently not even refusing unreasonable offers. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski that the Houston Rockets had made a pair of deals on Wednesday, one with the Suns and one with the Kings.
Eight months ago, at the NBA Draft, no one gave a second thought when Sacramento used the No. 5 overall selection to take Kansas forward Thomas Robinson. But he was dealt on Wednesday to the Rockets for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich. Sacramento also shipped out Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt to Houston as part of the deal.
So eight months ago, the Kings made Robinson a top-five draft pick and on Wednesday he was traded for a player who has likely maxed out his career as a fringe starter or quality guy off the bench.
To be fair, Patterson is a better, more productive player than Robinson is—that’s as of right now. He’s averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 26 minutes a night for the high-octane Rockets.
But Robinson is four years younger than the 24-year-old Patterson and has much more upside, even with the horrific rookie year he’s put together.
Robinson is averaging only 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in roughly 16 minutes a game and he’s shooting less than 43 percent from the floor.
This deal was done so that the Kings could save a buck or two this year, completely disregarding that Robinson would be under team control for another three seasons while Patterson is in the third year of his four-year rookie contract.
It’s not like Patterson is part of some push to help Sacramento make a playoff run. In essense, the Kings traded a lottery pick in order to save 27 games worth of salary.
The Rockets, in fairness, were looking to save money in this deal, too, but with an end game of trying to make a bigger splash in free agency or trades this summer.
The Kings? They’re just slashing costs to pare things down for a potential sale. Winning, it seems, is not the end game anymore for the Maloofs.
Which is why the NBA should make its end game getting the Maloofs out of Sacramento sooner rather than later.
The league did it in New Orleans a couple of years ago and the situation in Sacramento appears to be dire enough that the best thing the league could do is send an adult in to run things until the sale question is answered.