Sacramento Kings Relocation Plans On Hold, Joe Maloof Explains Family’s Decision To Commit To City For 2011-2012 NBA Season

May 3, 2011 – 10:30 am by Michael Bean

For at least another season at least, the Sacramento Kings will remain in California’s capital. The Maloof family agreed to keep the Kings in Sacramento for the 2011-2012 NBA season while the organization and the city tries to come up with a plan to fund and build a new arena that’s a more suitable long term fit over what is currently in place — Power Balance Pavilion (formerly known as ARCO Arena).  Lots of politics in play here, and I wouldn’t say the the future of professional basketball in Sacramento is bright, but for at least another season (if there is a season), the city of Sacramento will get to enjoy the young Kings squad play in their backyard.

Joe Maloof joined KHTK in Sacramento to talk about why their family ultimately committed to staying in Sacramento for at least another season, how they were not pressured in any way to make that decision, how the fans and city business leaders were the reason they opted to commit to staying, how the family’s finances are not in shambles as so many have claimed recently, how they love the city of Sacramento and are willing to stay there long-term if a new arena plan is in place, not having any idea how Lakers fans wound up in the family’s courtside seats while they were recently away in New York at a Board of Governors meeting, their willingness to pay their fair share of the cost of a new arena, and why he’s so excited about the future of the young Kings’ squad.

Why they ultimately decided not to file:

“Well it came down basically to two things — the fans and the business community. And what the fans did this last three weeks of this issue has been incredible, the support they’ve shown us. What the business community did, how they came to us with their commitments was just incredible. So that’s the two main reasons — the fans and the business community.”

Were they forced to into this decision or did they make it own their own as a family:

“No this was a family decision and we did this on our own. Nobody forced us to do anything.”

If there’s any truth to the prevailing assumption that when Clay Bennett made the recommendation to the relocation committee that the Kings stay in Sacramento, had they filed they would not have gotten the 16 yes votes that they received — did that at all factor at all into their decision?

“No, not at all. That’s not true, that’s not what happened. It really came down to…it came down to the fans and it came down to the business community, and in our heart and soul, we answered to this question — can you be fair and give us one more chance? That’s what it really boiled down to — fairness. And when people put it that way, it makes you stop and think. We’ve spent 13 years on this, we’ve spent millions, we’ve done everything in the world we could, and we said let’s give it one more shot. And when Mayor Johnson came out and he made a lot of promises and he said a lot of things, and we respect him for fighting for Sacramento, and let’s see if he can deliver.”

If he believes that they’ll be able to work constructively with Mayor Kevin Johnson:

“Yes, we can work with anybody. We get along with people. This has really been a tough situation for everybody, and I tell you, we’ll get along with the Mayor. If he has a great solution, we’re 100 percent behind it. We’ve always wanted to stay. It’s been a little frustrating because we haven’t been able to defend ourselves on a lot of issues being under a kind of gag order where we couldn’t speak. But we really do appreciate the love and the support that these Sacramentons have for the team. We saw it and we had to say when you saw it we had to be fair, and to be fair we had to give it another opportunity.”

On the state of the family businesses and if they’re in a place financially where they’ll be able to invest in putting a winning product out on the court:

“Sure we will be. We’ve had some ups and downs like everybody. We’ve gone through a lot of tough times, especially in Las Vegas, but you know what, the Palms is still there.  George is running it, he’s Chairman of the Board, and we’re going to come out fine on the Palms. And that was really the only real negative that we had in the family businesses — everything else is secure, we have no major debt, we have no personal debt, we’re in great shape that way. And really I don’t think there’s a stronger team in the league really with the opportunities that  we have than the Kings and I’ll tell you why: number one we have more cap space than any team in the league; we have what I think people would say is a great young nucleus of players; we’re going to have a top-five pick, and there’s just a great opportunity for us to go out and sign a couple of key free agents just like what happened to us seven or eight years ago when we brought Vlade [Divac] and [Chris] Webber in. So there’s a lot of opportunity for this franchise and that’s why we’re excited.”

If the Mayor and other relevant parties are able to put a good long-term plan in place, are they willing to commit to keeping the Kings in Sacramento for the long haul?

“Sure, sure! We love it! I remember the good times. I mean, a lot of people probably don’t and there’s a lot of new listeners that you probably have. But it’s a great city and they got behind that team in the glory years. And you know what, our team got a little old. But we’ve always spent the money though. I don’t appreciate the criticism when they say we haven’t. The last couple of years we’ve watched it a little bit, but before then when we had a chance or an opportunity to win a title, we went for it. Our salaries were in the high $70s [millions], and just go back and look.  So I want people to know that if there’s an opportunity to win it, we’re going to spend the money.”

On Lakers fans sitting in their seats while they were off in New York to meet with the Board of Governors recently  near the end of the regular season:

“It makes me sick! I didn’t even know anything about it You want me to take a lie detector test, I’ll take one! I would never allow that to happen. I don’t know how that happened, who those people were, I don’t even know if they were male or female. Who were they? I don’t even know who they were, so how they got there, it was probably some kind of stupid joke. But I don’t know anything about that and neither does my brother. So I don’t need to apologize about that. I don’t even know how that happened. You think we would let that happen? No way. Impossible.”

If the entire family was 100 percent behind the decision to stay in Sacramento:

“Yes, yes. We’ve always said that any major decision has to be unanimous from my mother on down to my sister, everything is 100 percent behind the plan.”

If the family is prepared to contribute significant financial resources to the building of a new arena:

“Well we haven’t seen any plan yet but we’ve always said we’ll do whatever our fair share is we’ll do. We’ve never said that we wouldn’t. So we have to take a look at the plan and make sure it makes sense financially for everybody involved, and then take it from there. But it has to feasibly make sense and we’ll just look at it and go from there.”

On the excitement about the Kings’ future — from their young talent, to GM Geoff Petrie, to head coach Paul Westphal:

“I think we’re very excited about our future here. We do want to re-sign Marcus [Thornton], he came in and really made a difference on our team as everybody knows. Samuel Dalembert when he was healthy, he and DeMarcus (Cousins) together, we started to win a lot of games. And as you know, we beat Memphis a couple of times there, so we can compete. I’m really excited about that team. I think Tyreke is going to come into camp in a lot better shape that he did last year. And he’s dedicated — he’s dedicated to getting his jump shot down, he’s working hard at it. I’m sure DeMarcus is going to come in in shape. It all depends on what these young guys do. Our team is going to be based on Tyreke getting better and DeMarcus getting better, and if they don’t get better we’re in a lot of trouble. If they get better along with Thorton, we’re going to be hard to beat, we really are. You saw what we did with the Lakers — we can compete. As far as Geoff, we have all the confidence in the world in Geoff.  And Paul Westphal, he really rallied us towards the end of the season and really did a great job. I think the players believe in him and we’re going to give him a shot and see what he can do. We’re going to, as I mentioned earlier, bring in a couple of top free agents, and we’ll have another top-five pick hopefully in the draft. So we’re going to be in really good shape.”

Listen here to Joe Maloof with Grant Napier on KHTK in Sacramento

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