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Kings staying in Sacramento…for now

Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson (L) and guard Tyreke Evans celebrate their NBA basketball game win over the Houston Rockets in Sacramento, California November 13, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

The Sacramento Kings won’t be moving to Anaheim, at least not for the 2011-12 season, per ESPN.

Team co-owner Joe Maloof told The Associated Press the team would remain in Sacramento for one more season to give mayor Kevin Johnson a chance to follow through on his promise for a new arena. If the city doesn’t follow through, the Kings will be relocated to another city, he added.

The move to Anaheim seemed like a done deal, but Mayor Kevin Johnson convinced local businesses to commit to $10 million in sponsorships to keep the Kings in town. The deal buys time for the city to figure out a way to build a new facility to replace the aging Arco Arena. (It’s now called something else, but I’m not going to make the effort to look it up.)

This is good news for the team’s fans in Sacramento, who have been organizing in an attempt to keep the franchise in town. Things were looking pretty grim lately until this last push from the mayor’s office.

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Tyreke Evans posterizes Gary Neal [video]

It has been a rough season for the Kings, but Tyreke Evans gives Sacramento Anaheim fans hope with this wicked dunk on the Spurs’ Gary Neal.

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.

DeMarcus Cousins expected to be suspended after altercation with teammate [video]

FanHouse has the details about the altercation that DeMarcus Cousins had with teammate Donte Greene after the Kings’ loss to the Thunder on Saturday night.

Kings rookie forward DeMarcus Cousins was removed from team plane bound for Phoenix after an altercation with teammate Donte Greene on Saturday night, according to two sources close to the organization.

The incident, which was first reported by FanHouse, immediately followed a loss to Oklahoma City. Cousins, who had overcome early-season struggles of the performance and personality variety recently, is expected to be suspended for at least one game.

According to the sources, Cousins (whose postgame interview can be seen here) was furious at the last play in which Tyreke Evans missed a three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation that would have won the game. Cousins, who had been calling for the ball in the post in the final possession, watched angrily as Greene in-bounded the ball to Evans for the final shot.

After the buzzer, Cousins let his opinion be known to Greene as he blew by him in the tunnel leading into the locker room. According to the sources, Greene and Cousins began exchanging words inside the locker room. The situation then escalated when Cousins accused Greene of being too “scared” of making what Cousins thought was the right play and with both players taking swings at each other before they were separated.

Here’s the play in question. Watch as Green inbounds the ball to Evans instead of Cousins, and then watch Cousins’ reaction after the game ends.

FanHouse looks at the bigger picture:

There is certainly a bigger picture to consider for the Kings, though, as their volatile 20-year-old who was taken fifth overall in the June draft clearly has no plans to keep quiet about what ails the team. The situation has become nothing short of a power struggle between the rookie and the reigning Rookie of the Year, with Cousins’ improved play of late giving him the gumption to question the way in which Evans is so often given carte blanche control of scenarios such as these.

This is not how the Kings wanted this to go, but when a team is 13-38, the frustration is going to pile up. Sacramento was hoping that Evans and Cousins would make a great 1-2 punch, and they still may, but clearly Cousins isn’t afraid to vent his frustration when he isn’t being utilized in late-game situations.

One thing I noticed about the video is that Cousins didn’t react negatively until the play was over. He didn’t snap his hand down in frustration (like Kobe does ALL THE TIME) when Greene didn’t pass him the ball and he fought for the rebound until the buzzer sounded.

In the game, Cousins was 5-of-14 for 14 points, while Evans was 11-for-22 with 30 points, so this may not be the battle that Cousins needs to fight. Evans was 0-for-2 from long range before he missed the potential game winner, so maybe he should have instead taken the ball into the paint to try to tie the game up at home.

Over the last 10 games, Cousins is averaging 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds, and is shooting 48% from the field, so he has it in him to be great. But, fair or not, with his reputation he’s under a microscope and he can’t be getting into physical altercations with teammates after a loss. He needs to channel that frustration into getting better — if he does, he could become one of the all-time greats. He’s that good.

Great finish to Kings/Grizzlies game [video]

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