Lakers and Clippers to oppose Kings move to Anaheim?

The New York Daily News reports that a possible move by the Sacramento Kings to Anaheim is likely to be opposed by the two teams already in the L.A. area.

The move to Anaheim will be opposed by the Lakers and Clippers, who see it as an encroachment on their territory. But sources close to the Maloofs say they’re willing to pay the two L.A. teams whatever it takes to relocate. That would be in addition to the league’s relocation fee of $30 million.

Anaheim Honda Center and Ducks owner Henry Samueli is prepared to help the Maloofs with the financing, offering a $100 million loan. Samueli tried to buy the team last year.

I live about six miles from the Honda Center and I’d love to see the Kings play there. I go to about one or two Clippers/Lakers games a year, and I’m thinking about getting season tickets to see the the Anaheim Kings (or whatever they end up calling themselves), so I don’t see the Kings as major competition for the Lakers or Clippers. If either franchise (especially the Clippers) were serious about courting Orange County, they’d move to Anaheim. As it stands, the 45-mile trek into the city (oftentimes during rush hour) is more than most OC folks can handle.

Orange County has more than 3.0 million residents, while Los Angeles County boasts 9.8 million residents. The OC’s population is greater than the metro areas of these current NBA cities: Denver (2.5 M), Portland (2.2 M), Sacramento (2.1 M), Cleveland (2.1 M), Orlando (2.1 M), San Antonio (2.1 M), Charlotte (1.7 M), Indianapolis (1.7 M), Milwaukee (1.6 M), Memphis (1.3 M), Oklahoma City (1.2 M), New Orleans (1.2 M) and Salt Lake City (1.1 M).

In short, there’s plenty of room for a third team in SoCal, though the best move would be for the Clippers to head south. That isn’t going to happen as long as Donald Sterling is the owner, and he isn’t likely to sell anytime soon, so I don’t blame the Maloofs for trying to capitalize on a move to Anaheim.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (talk about a dumb name for a baseball team) were #5 in average attendance in 2010 and 2009. The Anaheim Ducks have been in the #15-#25 range over the past four seasons.

Orange County will support a professional team if it’s good. Southern Californians are notoriously front-running, and will only go out of their way to support a winner. A team that loses like the Kings have this season is unlikely to outdraw Sacramento or Las Vegas, but Anaheim has a respectable arena and the Maloofs are finding that they have a lot of support from Samueli, who owns the Ducks and the Honda Center.

So the Clippers and Lakers may oppose the move, and why not? There’s no downside for them. If they put up a stink, they’ll at the very least get some extra cash out of the deal to grease the wheels.

But it’s not fair to basketball fans in Orange County, who would like a local team to root for that wouldn’t require an hour-plus white knuckle drive to see in person. It’s nonsensical that a metro area this populous and spread out has two teams sharing an arena when there’s a comparable arena in Anaheim.

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