|Joe and Gavin Maloof flank mayor Kevin Johnson to celebrate a joint agreement in February. (Getty Images)|
Less than two months after the Maloofs and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson clasped hands and bowed to standing ovations at Power Balance Pavilion, celebrating an agreement the two sides reached to build a new arena, the Kings owners want the deal renegotiated and insist the city come back to the table -- without the mayor.
"I don't think I'd want to negotiate with the mayor," co-owner George Maloof told USA Today on Saturday. "Maybe there's someone else that I'd feel more comfortable with.
"We're disappointed in comments made by the mayor that we feel were shots to us that were unfair and not truthful."
At the NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York on Friday, the Maloof family said they could not go forward with the existing term sheet plan for a new arena despite a handshake deal agreed upon during the All-Star weekend in Orlando in February.
Within a week of the agreement, Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 to move forward with a plan to for a new public and privately funded $391 million sports and entertainment facility, expected to be built by opening night of the 2015-16 NBA season. The Kings owners and Mayor Johnson celebrated the moves before a home crowd at Power Balance Pavilion on Feb. 28, when the team hosted the Utah Jazz.
On Friday, the Maloofs and their legal team insisted the deal was never in place. The Kings owners also said they want the team to remain in Sacramento, though previously they'd made plans to relocate to Anaheim. The Maloofs placed full blame on the city of Sacramento for allegedly not responding to concerns about the term sheet, a charge Johnson disputes.
Still, the Maloofs gave Sacramento officials a list of concerns they say need to be resolved before they would commit to the plan for a new arena. The family also detailed its concerns to the NBA's relocation committee, raising questions about various issues within the plan but also noting the increasing political opposition to the estimated $260 million in public funds the city agreed to as part of the plan.
In the meantime, Anaheim is currently working on renovations to the Honda Center, where the Maloofs initially wanted to relocate the Kings. The Los Angeles Times reports Anaheim mayor Tom Tait said his city is watching recent developments between the Maloofs and Sacramento.
"If they do leave Sacramento, they should know that we would welcome them here," Tait told the newspaper. "Anaheim is NBA-ready. We have great fans and a first-class facility."
Also attending the annual Board of Governors meeting on Friday, NBA commissioner David Stern expressed disappointment the deal fell apart. So did Johnson, the Sacramento native and former NBA All-Star guard who said the Maloofs went back on their word, thus fracturing lines of trust.
The Maloofs dropped another bombshell when they said that perhaps a renovation of Power Balance Pavilion -- the most outdated building in the NBA -- was in order despite years of insisting they would never consider that option.
"If they choose to renovate on their own and use private dollars, that's certainly their prerogative, but the city won't help," Johnson said. "I don't know what the Maloofs plan to do. I know they don't plan to honor their commitment to a downtown arena."
Johnson added that George Maloof's idea that the team stay at Power Balance Pavilion is ironic, given the number of times the Maloofs insisted they wanted a new building.
"When I sat down with the Maloofs. ... They very clearly told me they didn't want to renovate Arco, now Power Balance Pavilion," Johnson said. "They said they wanted a brand new facility. They wanted to be the toast of the town."
With confusion swirling over the team's fate, the Kings were thumped by the Thunder 115-89 on Friday. They'll try to end a seven-game losing streak Sunday at home vs. Portland.