Another day, another set of rumors surrounding the Sacramento Kings. Today’s rumor lays out the purported details of a Kings relocation to Seattle. And, in an effort to convince a potential local buyer that Sacramento has a viable market, Kings fans are pledging to buy season tickets under new ownership.
But how did we even get to this point in time? Why doesn’t Seattle have an NBA team, and why might Sacramento lose theirs? To answer these questions, it is best to turn to the silver screen.
Completed in 2009, a year after the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City, Sonicsgate serves as a damning indictment of everybody involved: Howard Schultz, Clay Bennett, Gregory Nichols, David Stern, the Washington State Legislature and more. Luckily for you, if you have an hour and a half to burn tonight, you can watch Sonicsgatefor free on youtube.
Small Market, Big Heart
Not to be outdone, and sensing that grassroots support was perhaps the only way to keep the Kings in Sacramento, James Ham and crew put together Small Market, Big Heart. In contrast to Sonicsgate, Small Market, Big Heart sounds a much more optimistic because the team has yet to leave, and because we don’t have any antagonists to indict (though the Maloof Brother have no chance of coming out of this not smelling like shit). You can also watch Small Market, Big Heart for free on youtube, and we highly suggest you do so.
Stay tuned later this week for Bay Area native, closet Kings fan and former Seattle resident Jacob Greenberg‘s take on the respective franchises.
When facing your second fiscal cliff in three weeks, all you can do is sit on your duff and watch incredibly athletic men do incredibly athletic things.
Monday: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies (5:00 PM PST on League Pass)
Oh yes. This is basketball. Obviously these two teams have history; their 7-game series last year (which included a 26pt Game 1 comeback by the Clips) permanently soured the milk between them. But this is also contrast of styles and zeitgeists, about the way basketball is fundamentally played. The Clips play with all the glitz and glamor that comes with having two of the most marketable players in the world, and defeat you ostentatiously, with much flair and fanfare. The Grizz, meanwhile, have the feel of the best YMCA pickup team of all time, filled with wily guys who won’t immediately intimidate you with their appearances and style of play, but will run and grind you to the ground, and make you work for literally every single point. It’s just another potential WCF preview in a wide open Western Conference.
Tuesday: Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Lakers (7:30 PM PST on League Pass)
“Why are we watching the 11th best team in the Western Conference play the Bucks, who you never seem to feel like watching?” you may be asking yourself (or me, I guess) right now. Really, I’m just interested to see how the Lakers highly offensive, not terribly defensive backcourt matches up against the Bucks’ highly offensive, not terribly defensive backcourt. You get 40 points and 14 assists per game between Kobe and Nash, and 38 points and 12 assists between Jennings and Ellis. That stat sheet should hit the treadmill, cause it’s bloated! There will be points, that’s for sure.
Wednesday: Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors (7:30 PM PST on ESPN)
Arguably, it was this play that heralded the arrival of the Golden State Warriors to the world of respectability, and may have changed the perception of the franchise for at least this season, and perhaps beyond. Throughout that 4th quarter, Draymond Green matched up against LeBron James 1-on-1, bodying up and letting him know that he was right there with him. My hope is that M-Jax decides to double LeBron because LeBron always remembers. LeBron never forgets. And Draymond isn’t playing nearly as much as he was a month ago.
Thursday: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers (7:30 PM PST on TNT)
Sigh. Yes. I know. We watched the Lakers on Tuesday, and the Heat on Wednesday. What else was I gonna pick? Kobe and LeBron are having incredible individual seasons. And you just know that the Lakers are gonna show up for this one. Of any of the games this season, they’ll show up against the Heat. Dwight’ll magically be back, and Pau will stop seeing double. It may still be a blowout, but c’mon. Any red-blooded NBA fan picks this game over, what…Milwaukee at Phoenix? Yeah. Exactly.
Friday: Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets (4:30 PM PST on League Pass)
Holy fortune reversal, batman! The Brooklyn Nets are great, having only lost two games since “The Other P.J.” Carlisemo took over for the ousted Li’l General. The Hawks, who had looked great in the first quarter of the season, have looked a bit more mortal lately; a pedestrian 4-6 in their last ten. Their defense has slipped up a bit in recent contests, while the Nets have won on the brilliance of their offense. If the playoffs started today, this would be your 4-5 matchup in the Eastern Conference.
Saturday: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves (5:00 PM PST on League Pass)
The good Basketball Lord giveth, and the good Basketball Lord taketh away. The for the second year in a row, the Wolves are tasked with surviving the long-term absence of one of their two best players and remaining competitive in the standings. Can they do it? Well, they’ve slipped two games below .500 for the first time this season and have dropped three straight overall. They’re starting to get a bit snippy with one another and Rick Adelman’s been away from the team to be with his ailing wife. And most importantly: Ricky Rubio still doesn’t look quite like himself. Homie’s shot 1-12 from the field in his last five games. Como se dice “yikes!” en espanol?
Sunday: Boston Celtics at Detroit Pistons (4:30 PM PST on League Pass)
The Celtics have found their groove, winners of 4 straight following the return of apparent rosetta stone Avery Bradley. But hey, so have the Pistons, who have gone 7-3 in their last 10 to get themselves up to 14-24, and have sort of positioned themselves to be the “probably won’t make it but still won’t be mathematically eliminated until two weeks before the end of the season” 8th seed darling. I’m excited to see Drum Man and G-Monroe go up against Kevin Garnett in all his grumpy-ass glory.
Here’s the thing: the Lakers don’t even suck this year. There are ten teams with worse records than the Lakers, and three other franchises last year. Within the last two season, almost half the league has been worse than the Lakers! And yet, everywhere I look I see Lakers fans bitching, moaning and groaning. Lakers beat writers act like they’re in Syria dodging bullets, rather than reporting on whether Dwight looked a little too happy during a loss. It’s not that I want to laugh at other’s misery, it’s that I want to laugh at other’s self-righteous misery. As Spencer Lund writes in his beautifully wordsmithed essay, “The same way a bourgeois dandy looking around nervously in my Kingsland Avenue bodega allows me a small chuckle at their flustered interaction with my lower income neighbors, so do your endlessly entertaining eruptions of woe on Twitter after a single loss.”
In this melancholy trip into the painful past, Fendo takes a look at the All-Pain team; former high draft picks whose pasts, presents and futures have been deeply altered by catastrophic and chronic injuries. He uses his imagination, and a nifty little graphic, to provide an interesting dreamscape about how the NBA would look if players like Gil Arenas, Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Andrew Bynum and Eric Gordon had careers that were defined more by their exploits on the court rather than rehab and setbacks in the training room. In his discussion, Fendo offers perhaps the best metaphor for how we, as fans, regard acute injuries to our favorite high-profile players: “it’s a massive boulder being tossed in a kiddie pool and me and you, the fans and writers and hoop heads are the little kids sitting around in our swim trunks, wondering what we’re going to do now since the water’s all gone and that boulder simply can’t be moved—because we can’t, with all of our will power and technological advances, make Greg Oden get well soon.” Well put, Fendo.
The other night, when Portland lost to Golden State, Damian Lillard was the only Trail Blazer to show up. Lillard scored 37 points on 60% shooting: the rest of the Blazers scored 60 on 30% shooting. Just another stellar game for the Portland’s rookie PG? Not if you saw the copious shots of the deliriously happy luxury suite crammed with Lillard friends and family. In this wonderful article, Candace Bucker chronicles Lillard’s homecoming, how he went from East Oakland to presumptive Rookie of the Year favorite. As a man who loves Oakland more than I can properly explain in words, I will always root for Lillard to succeed.
Emotions have been running high since Wednesday, when the news broke that the Maloof brothers were close to selling their team, the Sacramento Kings, to an investment group of billionaires that intend on moving the team up to Seattle to replace the departed Sonics. There has been ample sniping between Sonics fans excited to get a team back in their city and Kings fans (and Sacramento residents) who rightfully feel they aren’t being given a proper chance to voice their opinions and save their team. As such, Cowbell Kingdom founder James Ham (and director/producer of “Small City, Big Heart”, which all should watch to get a firsthand, subjective view of the relocation situation) offers his idea: get David Stern involved, and have him grant Seattle an expansion team. Ham does not think that Seattle’s wrong needs to be righted with his city’s team, and that the most cost effective solution that will please all parties involved will be to allow local Sacramento owners to buy the team, and for Seattle to get a team with no prior baggage to ruffle through, and no previous history to ignore and change. It’s a great thought. I hope it can happen.
Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace are two of the oldest players in the NBA, and have been a part of the league for nearly twenty years now. They were teammates on the same high-profile UNC team in college, and were both lottery picks in the 1995 draft. Both of their careers have had major highs and lows, but the important thing is, as players and professionals, they have survived and thrived. Jonathan Abrams does what he does best: access multiple sources and a litany of opinions from different people who interacted with both Sheed and Stack throughout the years to create the fullest, most contextualized view on these two guys possible. In the end, we are left with a wonderfully illustrated image of how a player redefines themselves to survive in a cutthroat league, and make personal and professional changes to keep getting work in the National Basketball Association. This, I think, is the best article I’ve ever read about “getting old” in the NBA. I’ll say it as many times as I need to: whenever Abrams writes an article, a long-form angel gets its wings.
Depending upon which source you believe, a deal to sell (and subsequently move) the Sacramento Kings to a group of investors from the Seattle area is either a done deal, or the two parties haven’t talked about it in months. We still don’t know exactly how this is all going to end up, but we do know that there’s about a 99% chance that it ends poorly for Sacramento Kings fans. And that’s a shame, because Kings fans are great.
People who have never been to Sacramento like to dismiss it as California’s version of a flyover state. They like to assert Seattle’s, or any other city’s, cultural superiority over the Kings as a reason to move the team. I mean, who cares if those weirdo California rednecks lose their team? I care, and I don’t even like the city of Sacramento.
I have been to Sacramento many times in my life, and don’t particularly like the city, but that has nothing to do with whether they deserve to have an NBA franchise. Because they do. Like Portland and Salt Lake City, Sacramento is a one team town, and they love their Kings. Arco Arena sold out almost every single game during a ten year stretch spanning the late 1990s to mid 2000s, and rivaled Oracle Arena and the Rose Garden for loudest arenas in the league. Even in the last few years, as relocation rumors swirled around the some terribly run Kings teams, attendance didn’t sink to the level of teams like the Pistons, Nets and Hawks. Kings fans show up, and Kings fans show up loudly.
Now, Seattle is one of the Diss’ favorite cities, and they deserve an NBA team. When they eventually do get a team, we will cheer for our friends and family that live in Seattle, and for the righting of a wrong perpetrated by Clay Bennett and the NBA. But if Sacramento does lose their Kings, like it looks like they will, we will all be worse off for it.
Miss Guy: Joel Freeland
Way back when, in a magical year called 2011, a bunch of millionaires and billionaires couldn’t figure out how to split up a multi-billion dollar revenue pie fairly, so they shut down the NBA until they could figure a way everyone could get rich happily. It wasn’t too much fun, and basketball aficionados everywhere were tasked with finding alternative ways to get their fix. Some turned to the college game (bleh), some might’ve turned to high school (weird). But the hardy few — or, those who had ESPN3 — went with the best option: Euroleague. Though it was no National Basketball Association, I was still hooked pretty quickly.
For three months, I totally suspended reality, and pretended that I had a lifelong association with Euroleague. I began to form allegiances with teams that I had never heard of, and players who were complete mysteries. I really grew to love Nikola Pekovic on Partizan Belgrade, and I thought Sergio Llull and Victor Claver made a great duo on Real Madrid. It was like the soccer tournament I never had any interest in watching, replete with catchy chants, raucous gyms and lots and lots of ads on the jerseys.
One of my favorite players was this big white dude (there are lots of big white dudes in Euroleague) named Joel Freeland. Freeland, who hailed from Surrey, England, was the best player on Unicaja Malaga, based in Spain. Freeland manned the pivot ably; a mobile center who could bang effectively down low, but still step out and hit jumpers. He wasn’t a bad defender as well, and clearly, most of everything that Unicaja did was run through Freeland. He was the only player on Unicaja (besides Fran Vasquez) who looked like an NBA player in the flesh. When watching the Euroleague, I thought I saw a valuable bench player in the mold of Marcin Gortat circa 2009 — a change of pace center that could maybe snag a starting job once he became an unrestricted free agent. So, I was excited to learn that Freeland, after much bluster, was finally coming to the NBA to be exactly what I thought he should be: a backup center with the Portland Trail Blazers, who had owned his draft rights for years.
So, how’s it been going? Well, bad. Very bad. I didn’t expect Freeland to come in and make people up in PDX forget that that whole Greg Oden thing didn’t really work out, but I also didn’t expect him to come in and make people miss efficient backup legends like Jeff Pendergraph or Joel Pryzbilla as much as they probably do right now. Freeland has been one of the worst players on the team — nay, the league — since he arrived in the states. He arrived out of shape to camp, and wasn’t game ready when the season began. Since then, he’s had a hard time cracking the rotation, though he’s not doing a lot to earn a permanent spot. On the season, he’s averaging 2.6 ppg and 2.3 rpg in just about 10 mpg. He’s gotten into about half of the games available to him, and when he’s in, he’s just not very good, a plus-minus average of about -2 when he’s on the floor. He’s spent some time in the D-League (something his agent was none too pleased about) and still is playing as unimportant a role as can be in the worst scoring bench in the NBA (17.6 ppg, good for dead last). Last night, in a nationally televised win against the Heat, Freeland was a no-show, logging 0 points, 3 rebounds and 2 fouls in seven heart-stopping minutes of play.
So, I was wrong about my lockout hero. But hey, when my man Bo McCalebb gets here: watch out!
Last night I attended an event billed as Behind the Scenes with NBA Commissioner David Stern. In a theater at the National Museum for the American Indian, I sat among a crowd that seemed to be half over the age of 60 (and Jewish) and half incredibly stereotypical can’t-function-in-public-and-smell-badly nerds. Yeah, it was weird.
Besides moderator Phil Hochberg who would occasionally interject himself, there were four people seated in front of me: Michael Lee, Washington Wizards beat writer; Mike Wise, Washington Post sports writer; Wolf Blitzer, anchor of CNN’s The Situation Room and supposedly the representative of “the fan” on the panel; and the aforementioned David J. Stern. One of the three other panel members would ask Stern a question, and he would ramble on for a bit, telling some stories and answering, before another panelist would interject. This went on for about an hour, with another half hour dedicated to audience questions. For a decent “transcript” of the questions and answers, check out the Storify below.
One could argue that the history of the modern world has been dictated by the rise and fall of various empires in differing regions across the globe. Conquest, coercion, colonialism, post-colonialism, and nationalism can all be tied to the rise and expansion of empire, and their rises and falls produce mixed impacts for all who come into contact with imperial machinery.
No two empires are exactly alike, but they have features that are uniform across the board. Broadly speaking, an empire represents an extensive collection of states and peoples under either an absolute monarch, like a king or an emperor, or an oligarchy, like a state-appointed senate or parliament. Some empires have been large, others small. Some have been regarded as cruel and brutal, while others have been remembered as (vaguely) benevolent and forward-thinking. Some lasted for thousands of years on end, while others managed to eke out a few decades of existence. But one thing seems to remain constant, regardless of the shape, form, or trajectory of an imperial power: there will be a rise, and there will be a fall. And in most cases, that fall will come as a result of the empire’s previous actions, and as a byproduct of unwise decisions whose impacts could not have been fully known at the time.
Last night, two of the NBA’s great empires of the 21st century showed how far they had declined since their apexes only a few years before. The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the San Antonio Spurs 108-105, in a game whose score belies how un-competitive the contest actually was. The Lakers looked as defensively inept as they have all season, and Kobe’s off-balance three to force overtime (after a furious rally that was thrown off by Metta World Peace’s ill-advised drive to the hoop against Tim Duncan and a corner three that looked off-line as soon as it was launched) was doomed from the start. Later in the night, the Dallas Mavericks, a former stalwart, lost to the new imperial power in the City of Angels—the Clippers—in a game that really seemed more like a tortured dance between a hungry snake and a terrified mouse. The Mavs’ rallies always looked like a fool’s gold, and we all looked away as the Clippers put their feet slowly down on the team’s collective necks, their bodies convulsing, their gasps becoming weak and shallow.
It is interesting, considering how far they’ve fallen. This goes almost without saying: over the last ten years, there have been very few franchises more consistently successful than the Lakers and the Mavs. Since 2000, the Lakers have averaged a winning percentage of .652 in the regular season, have made the playoffs 11 out of 12 seasons (123-70, good for .637), went to the Finals seven times, and won the whole thing five times. The Mavs haven’t had the same Finals-level success of the Lakers, but they have been statistically magnificent in their own right. They’ve won more regular season games over the last 12 seasons than even the Lakers (.663), have gone 65-64 in the playoffs (.504), been to the Finals twice, and won the entire thing once (against the East’s new imperial power, the Miami Heat). There was little wrong in their basketball empires; the boon of major markets bestowing quality players, high viewership, national television appearances, and of course, wins by the bucketful, for the organization and their denizens. All was well, and the empire seemed eternal.
But for those watching closely, it was apparent that the edges were beginning to fray around their basketball empires. One could see that the sheen on the tapestry was starting to fade, that the halls of the emperor were becoming cold and tense. It wasn’t total and usurping, but rather, a slow death that is only now starting to cascade downhill rapidly. One can look to the annals of history to get better understandings about the slow deaths of teeming empires, who at various times all boasted fearsome armies, full-to-overflowing coffers, huge tracts of natural and human resources, and cultural, linguistic and intellectual influences that extended beyond their metropoles and into their territories in the hinterland.
The Lakers are learning the lessons of the great, yet arrogant, Persian empire (now modern day Iran), who between 600-450 BC, conquered large swaths of the Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian and Assyrian Empires and became the major military and trade power in the ancient world. Especially under the rule of the Darius the Great, the Persians became a great creditor-nation. According to J. Rufus Fears, the Persians provided by far the largest import-export market in the world, and were able to replenish themselves and grow, year after year, to the point where their army could always be rebuilt with soldiers and war machines, and their coffers could be filled with gold. They were in a fantastic position to be a major player in the region for thousands of years. However, they fell prey to what the Roman historian Herodotus called “hybris”, which loosely translates to “outrageous arrogance”. The strength and stability of his empire convinced Darius to engage in an ill-advised war with the Greeks, who defeated his massive army in the well-treaded Battle of Marathon in 450 BC. Shortly after his humiliating defeat, the Persians lost other battles, and gave up vast territories (and all the resources therein) to the Greeks. Because of his rash personal decision, and his wild arrogance, Darius compromised his own empire, and hastened its own defeat.
One sees a number of parallels between the decline of the Persians and the decline of the Lakers. Like Darius the Great, the Lakers’ braintrust of decision-makers, lead brashly by franchise-face Kobe Bryant, have been thoroughly guilty of falling under the spell of their own hybris. They (and really, the rest of us) felt they could compete on a nightly basis with a starting lineup that featured four players over 30 years old, none of whom could be described at this point as defensively-minded players. They foolishly believed that, because they were the Lakers, they could make four alpha-males coexist, and that the shimmering glitter of the “Lakers” logo on the front of the jersey would bestow wins, home court advantage, and ticker tape parades down the streets of Los Angeles. When it didn’t come together in the way they planned, they were left without an answer, except the one that they had been willfully ignoring all along: that well-planned purpose motivates greater than unearned hubris, and that size really doesn’t matter when you are more inspired to succeed. The Lakers have suffered a new battle of Marathon in each of their 20 losses, surprised by an outcome that makes total sense considering how little substance they seem to present, night in and night out.
Meanwhile, the Mavsericks are learning the same mistakes the Ottomans learned as their empire’s light slowly extinguished at the dawn of the twentieth century as the result of some poorly hedged bets. The Ottomans once carried the distinction of being the largest, longest continuous empire in the world, starting in modern-day Turkey in 1299, and continuing uninterrupted until 1923. The Ottomans boasted exceedingly complex systems of governance and religious tolerance (most notably the vaunted millet system), as well as beautiful architectural and intellectual relics of antiquity. But the Ottomans did not benefit from the industrial revolution in the same way as Europe, so while Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the USA grew by leaps and bounds during the 1800s, the Ottomans fell further and further behind the times, and reduced the power of the sultanate to next to nothing. Military defeats and the rise of nationalist thought in the Crimean, the Mediterranean, Northern Africa and the Middle East took away valuable territories, and massive amounts of debt to European nations forced the Ottomans to give up territory in a bid for fiscal solvency. By the end of the 19th century, all that was left of the once-massive empire was the vague outline of modern-day Turkey, and some assorted territories in the Levant and central Asia. The final blow came during WWI, when the Ottomans made a final bid to save their empire and allied with with Axis powers, who were ultimately defeated by the Allies in 1918. The last Ottoman territories in the Middle East were annexed to European powers between 1919 and 1922.
To me, the decline of the Mavericks Empire seems exceedingly similar to the downfall of the the house of Ottoman Like the Ottomans, the Mavs have hedged their bets since reaching their apex in 2011, after a long, fitful climb to the top. After winning the title with a hard-nosed veteran-laden roster, the Mavs went bankrupt, financially and emotionally. They could not afford their best players from the title team, and even if they could, they didn’t want to pay what they were asking for to remain with the team. So those players left for other teams, replaced by lesser, affordable talent. The Mavs have hedged their bets on free agency in 2012 and 2013, confident that a big-name free agent like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard or Chris Paul would want to join Dirk, Carlisle and Cuban in northeast Texas. But after 2012 yielded no major coups besides O.J. Mayo and 2013 has produced little besides a 13-23 record, doubt from an aging franchise player and disgust from the jilted owner doesn’t inspire high hopes for the long term revival of the Mavericks Empire.
It seems to me—and I am no expert—that the most successful empires, both in terms of longevity and favorable public memory, are those that shed as many of the negative associations that come with empire and imperialism. These empires are small and diffuse (and as much as an empire can be those things) and seem focused on ideas of pluralism and community development rather than coercion, conquest, and resource extraction. One might point to the rule of the Zagwe in the Ethiopian Empire, which lasted as an independent Christian empire from 1136 (following the official establishment of the Zagwe dynasty, which defeated, and subsequently married into, the great Askumite dynasty) until 1936, when Mussolini’s forces invaded the region. During their reign, the Zagwe made major advancements in math, science, architecture and agriculture, established complex and lasting trade relationships with other African, European and Arab communities, and successfully defended their territory against Arabs, Turks and Europeans. All the while, they stayed relatively insular, content to keep territory on the Eastern coast, and never expanded east into the interior. And indeed, one sees a certain Zagwe-ness in the San Antonio Spurs, who have kept their dynasty alive in some form or fashion for 14 seasons now without feeling the need to make a big splash or over-exert their influence on the rest of the league. There is a quiet confidence to their imperialism; one that seems poised to remain for decades.
As for the empires of the Lakers and the Mavericks? Perhaps they can be saved. Perhaps their fall can be reversed through a stroke of luck. But the times have become desperate, and Paul Harris is correct that “ideas have unhinged the gates of empire”. That does not bode well for our friends in Los Angeles and Dallas, whose edifices are slowly crumbling, being reduced to little but sand.
Reports are just coming out on Twitter that the Maloof brothers have reached a deal with a buying group headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and tech mogul Steve Ballmer to sell their team, the Sacramento Kings, for 500 million bones. The new team in Seattle would play its first two seasons in Key Arena before moving into their brand new SODO arena by the start of the 2015-2016 season.
Is it a done deal? Well, let’s go to the optimism guide, and assess the facts.
Best Chance To Break Another City’s Heart: The Sacramento Kings
All we know is what we know, and right now, we don’t know all that much. Nothing has been confirmed, but given the general credibility of the source, one must somberly (or excitedly, depending on your view) presume that the Kings’ days in Sacramento have finally been numbered. The Kings certainly haven’t been giving out any hints that they’re planning on hammering out a deal with the City of Sacramento, and despite a litany of local buyers who’d be willing to put down cash to keep the Kings in California’s capital city, there seems to be no productive dialogue between them and the Maloofs. There have been no moves made to either build a new arena, or refurbish Arco Power Sleep Pavillion. It’s dead in the water. However, given the Maloofs proclivity towards changing their minds at the last minute, nothing is certain until its truly certain. But this doesn’t look that promising for Kings fans.
Optimism Level:9 (out of 10)
Next Best Chance: ???
There really isn’t a viable candidate to put here, given the resurgence of the Bobcats and the new lease deals for the Hornets. It’s Sacramento or bust.
Optimism Level: N/A (out of 10)
Dark Horse: Detroit Pistons
Really, this is just a shot in the dark. The Pistons have all the signs of a franchise vulnerable to relocation: bad team, ineffective front office, silent ownership, and an old and empty arena that is distant from its metropole. Given that the Pistons are one of the great franchises from days of yore, that they’re not that far removed from their latest period of contention, and that there seems to be a semblance of a core with Drummond and Monroe, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll move. But hey, if the Sonics can leave Seattle after 41 years, anything is possible.