Countertop Conversation: Sacramento’s loss is Seattle’s gain

March 7, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings fan holds up a sign to acknowledge the recent vote to build a new arena and keep the team in Sacramento before the game against the New Orleans Hornets at Power Balance Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When major NBA news breaks, Right Down Euclid always has you covered. But when the news could affect the entire landscape, editor Zak Kolesar and contributor Chris Manning will sit down and break it down in a conversational format. Today the series, titled Countertop Conversation, will cover the rumored move of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle in its first edition.

According to reports, the Maloof brothers have sold the Sacramento Kings to an ownership group (consisting of hedge fund manager Steve Henson and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer) that plans to move the team to Seattle, and rename the Kings the SuperSonics. The deal, worth a reported $500 million, is not yet official. Reports and rumors have surfaced, but they have been disputed at the same time. Here, Chris and Zak discuss the possible move and the implications behind it.

Zak Kolesar:  I’m excited for the city of Seattle. Being from Cleveland, I realize the pain that a fan base goes through when their said team leaves due to monetary and self-promoting reasons. Think of the circumstances regarding what happened to the Cleveland Browns and Seattle SuperSonics; the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, a year after the Browns had gotten their team back in Cleveland. Seeing the success that the Oklahoma City Thunder are having now had to make it just as hard for fans from Washington state.

Chris Manning: I do feel for the Kings fans, but they at least could have come out and supported their team more if they wanted to keep them in town. All reports indicate that the Kings have problems drawing tickets in Sacramento, even with talented players like DeMarcus Cousins and “biggish” names like Jimmer Fredette on the roster. All in all, I am just happy to see basketball back in Seattle; a fan base like the Browns in 1996, that had their team ripped away at the whim of an owner. That wound must be especially deep considering that they lost Kevin Durant as a star, now one of the best players in the NBA.

ZK: Having to watch Durant and company get so close to holding the championship trophy had to be bittersweet for fans. They’ve watched All-Star players come and go through their organization, just to see them achieve the goals that they wanted them to reach in Seattle. The first name that comes to mind is Ray Allen. His time in Seattle wasn’t going to last forever, but seeing him team up with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston and hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy had to be hard to comprehend. I think that the fans will be able to add a spark in the play of the now Sacramento Kings, and that this team will succeed under new ownership.

February 13, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Sonics fans stand between plays during the second quarter between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder at ORACLE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

CM: When talking about the owners, I hope this is end of the Maloofs in NBA (it is rumored that the Maloofs will own a small percentage of the team). The casino moguls are more known for wanting to sell the Kings and/or moving them than for what they did to try and improve a once proud franchise. There was never an indication that the two brothers ever seriously considered putting all their chips into making the Kings a winner in Sacramento. And that could be a major reason why the Sacramento fan base stopped coming to games like they did in the Chris Webber era.

ZK: I’m excited to see the Maloofs give up their majority ownership in an NBA team, no argument there. With billionaire Chris Hansen striking a deal with the Seattle City Council to make the city once again NBA-ready, I think we have an interested and non-distant owner on our hands. He has been trying to bring a team back to Seattle ever since they had one ripped away from them. He’s been living in the region ever since he was five years old, so the area obliviously has sentimental value to him. He seems like a good guy based on the stories I’ve heard about him picking up a tab at a Seattle pub for SuperSonic fans, so that’s pretty neat.

CM: And even though the Kings currently have a record of 13-22 (good for 13th in the Western Conference), they have some nice pieces in Cousins, forward Thomas Robinson and the currently injured Tyreke Evans. Their future really depends on the progression of Cousins both on and off the court, as well as Evans returning to the form he had as a rookie. They also need to draft well in the next few years to try and build around the young core they currently have. But above all is figuring out if Cousins is worth the amount of headaches he causes, no matter how talented he is on the court.

Dec 8, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) posts up against Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews (2) at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA Today Sports

ZK: The future of this team is definitely more on the promising side of things despite what internal problems they have been dealing with thus far. Cousins could be a top talent in the NBA if he puts all the drama behind him, and Robinson is a great building block for this young team. They are handling the playing time of the former Kansas power forward the way they should, as he will be a regular part of this team’s rotation in the years to come. But what about the hypocrisy of this situation? Again I bring back the Ravens as an example. Remember when the Baltimore Colts had their team moved during the night to avoid the public view? Maryland was devastated, but they did the same thing to the Cleveland Browns. Now Seattle, although they’re regained their beloved SuperSonics, are ripping away the Kings from Sacramento. Strictly business, however.

CM: We have to remember that professional sports is a business, first and foremost. As passionate as some fan bases are (i.e. Cleveland) sometimes money makes owners move. It is hypocrisy, but I don’t think owners truly consider a fan base when they decide to move a team. They consider which market is better for them to make money in – end of discussion.  Owners have always said that if fans come out, they can afford to pay their top talent to stay. It’s a vicious cycle that, in the modern landscape, will likely never change, no matter the sport.

Topics: NBA, Sacramento Kings, Seattle Supersonics

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