By eliminating everyone from negotiating, Maloofs, Kings are stuck

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist
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The Maloofs may avoid their courtside seats for the Kings' last five home games. (US Presswire)  
The Maloofs may avoid their courtside seats for the Kings' last five home games. (US Presswire)  

As Comrade Berger tells us, George Maloof of the Flying Maloofs now wishes the NBA no longer be involved in negotiations between them and the city of Sacramento about a new arena.

This means he, on their behalf, has now asked in the space of less than a week that negotiations now no longer involve the mayor of the city, or the league that served as the midwife on the deal. Thus we can now infer he wants the Maloofs to negotiate with themselves.

Now there's a posture we can all get behind -- with one caveat.

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By Friday at the latest, he'll call a news conference saying he no longer wants to negotiate with himself, thus leaving the room to any street artist, convenience store operator or railyard hobo to take the lead on the Building That Cannot Be Built.

Or, if none of them want the job, us.

In their whirlwind tour of making friends by telling them to get lost, the Kings owners have shown either an incredible confusion based on their parlous financial state, or merely want to stall the process to the point where someone will come and buy the team off them just to get them to shut up.

That seems unlikely, for one very good reason. Based on the boys' negotiating style, the negotiations would have to be done by semaphore flag.

Oh, the league has made one big mistake -- trusting the boys to know what they want. If they want to sell, the league would allow it. If they want to move, the league would allow that too. If they want to stay and make a stand, the league would be fine with it.

But the boys can't take yes for an answer any better than no, so there you go.

And the city, through mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson, has had its share of bunglings as well, starting with calling a news conference announcing an agreement before anyone had actually signed as much as a cocktail napkin. Even if the Maloofs weren't the Maloofs, that's nuts.

Plus, there remain questions about whether all this fabulous parking revenue the city says it can generate can actually be generated. By all views, this looks like a deal where the city stretched its resources pretty thin, and without much margin for error.

This is a view the city vehemently denies, which of course it is bound to deny since it's their plan, but remember the volumes of studies that show that a city-built sports arena never returns its costs to the municipality in question.

It doesn't mean a city can't spend its money its way, but in this case the city is spending it on people who a city representative compared to the North Korean leadership last week.

Oh yeah, Kim Jong-Un, come on down. And leave that rocket in the car.

And David Stern? He just threw down another full bottle of Nyquil to make that throbbing pain subside. The Maloofs are his bosses too.

So this is where we are now. The Maloofs want Kevin Johnson out, and now they want David Stern out. And we're not even getting to the part where they want the downtown building out, preferring to have the old one refurbished. In other words, they want the NBA, the city, and the arena out of the picture.

Now unless I miss my guess, that leaves the field wide open for some wily entrepreneur to smart selling "The Maloofs Don't Want To Negotiate With Me" apparel. If that doesn't happen soon, my faith in Sacramento's citizens will be severely depleted.

Then again, I'm not authorized to negotiate the deal with the Maloofs either, so there you go.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com

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