|If Seattle really does get the Kings, now what happens? (Getty Images)|
With the potential sale of the Sacramento Kings franchise going to the Hansen group in Seattle, we could have NBA basketball back in Seattle, Washington later this year. The city of Seattle was an incredible basketball town for over 40 years before the Sonics were moved from the Emerald City to Oklahoma City. And while the people in OKC have been as good of an NBA town as you could hope for (especially in a small market), many NBA fans (including David Stern) have wanted the NBA to do right by the city of Seattle and get a team back to them.
As some Seattle citizens rejoice in the news of a potential NBA return to their city and some citizens wonder why it isn't their original team with Kevin Durant and company in tow, the overall feeling with Sonics fans on social media platforms and calling in to various radio programs is pretty ecstatic. Not only is the Hansen ownership group bringing the Kings to Seattle if this deal goes through, but an arena deal for the team is also in place.
Back in September 2012, the city of Seattle and the investor group led by Chris Hansen agreed on an arena deal that would put a brand new facility near Safeco Field. It would give the port area of Seattle just off of Elliott Bay a murderer's row of new and impressive professional sporting facilities between CenturyLink Field (Seattle Seahawks' stadium), Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners' stadium) and the new basketball arena that would replace Key Arena.
Until the new facility is finished, the Sonics would have to play at least two-to-three seasons in Key Arena. Hansen's ownership group is making some renovations to modernize Key Arena enough to make it a viable business option until there is a new home for Sonics basketball.
The interesting question from this point forward is if the Kings do move to Seattle and become the Sonics, what does the organization do next?
First and foremost, the new ownership group should hopefully be doing their best to give the current employees of the Sacramento Kings a chance to either continue employment within the organization if they plan to move or offer impressive severance packages to those who don't want to uproot their families. Once the team figures out which employees will move to the Pacific Northwest, they'll reclaim their history, become the Sonics once again, and start figuring out what to do with their future.
We don't know what will happen to the Sacramento Kings' history. The team could acknowledge it or it could be offered up to Sacramento in a similar way the Oklahoma City Thunder "held it" for the Seattle SuperSonics.
Next, the new owners have to find a direction for their team. Most likely, Geoff Petrie and other front office employees will be shown the door. New people with fresh ideas and a better understanding of how to build a team in today's NBA would take over and figure out what they have with this roster. They could keep coach Keith Smart around, but it's unlikely he'd be the long-term sideline patroller at this time.
So how does the roster look? Well, in a word ... confusing.
The team has roughly $50 million in committed salary for next season, leaving them with just under $8 million in salary cap. As of right now, they would end up with a top 10 pick in the 2013 draft. If it's outside of the lottery, the Cleveland Cavaliers get the pick. Assuming it won't be, you can shave roughly another $2.5 million off their cap position. They also have restricted free agency rights to Tyreke Evans if they extend the $6.9 million qualifying offer.
Really, the team doesn't have any cap space heading into the summer unless they use their amnesty on John Salmons, renounce the free agent rights to James Johnson ($3.9 million cap hold) and decline the team option on Francisco Garcia. They would have around $13 million in cap space if they did that (and they will probably at least decline Garcia's option). But they're still left with a lot of questions about where they are headed.
They have a lot of guard depth with Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, and Jimmer Fredette. Throw in Aaron Brooks too because he'd be crazy to decline his player option for next season. Does any of that fit together? With the exception of Thomas, all of those guys need the ball in their hands to score, which is their main and often sole attribute.
They have DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Thomas Robinson, and Chuck Hayes signed for at least the next two-to-three seasons. This rotation of big men could work but it's going to be expensive to keep once Cousins gets his extension (assuming he doesn't take the one-year qualifying offer and bolts for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015). And for it to be truly effective, you need wings who can shoot the ball from downtown.
There is talent on the roster but no focus. That's probably due to the instability of the coaching position in this organization since Rick Adelman was fired in 2006, not to mention the fact that Geoff Petrie has been swinging and missing on putting a decent team together for years now. Both Smart and Petrie's contracts are up after this season.
The new Sonics would be in the same position this Kings roster is in. There is no direction with the team, only hope that you can trade or mold the assets into a playoff roster. The good news is you can be smart about your direction of the franchise, knowing you have the financial backing needed to run an organization. The Sonics wouldn't have any problem getting top candidates to consider running their front office or their team on the court.
They would have one year to convince Cousins he wants to be a star in Seattle. They would have to make a decision on Tyreke Evans and figure out if he can be the budding star he looked like his rookie season. Everything else is basic rebuilding of a team as you wait for your brand new facility to open up and hold one of those ribbon-cutting ceremonies with a giant pair of scissors.
The city of Seattle would have to get acquainted with their new team, but it wouldn't take long for them to become the rowdy, passionate fan base they showed for decades with their previous team. In their minds, they would have an instant rivalry with the Oklahoma City Thunder and maybe they could even work toward knocking them off the top of the Western Conference within a couple of seasons.
Of course, that's all assuming Sacramento loses their team and David Stern can't accomplish his goal of getting a team back to Seattle before he steps down as commissioner. We've got a couple more months until we know for sure.