George Maloof is smiling. He is winning and he knows it.
Virginia Beach is just the latest to be lured in a high-stakes game to boost the value of the team he cares nothing about.
Negotiating with leaders on the Eastern Seaboard is nothing more than a play to increase demand for the franchise the Maloofs claim they do not want to sell. Gavin is holding onto the Kings the way a two-year-old child squeezes his teddy bear. Joe loves having the team when the wins are plentiful, but will be easily swayed if the money is right. That is what George is counting on. He won’t convince Gavin, but Joe is susceptible.
The second-youngest Maloof has never wanted the team and now sees it as the only last final payout for a family that has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars. Settling on any deal less than $450 million will not suffice for the family that once owned a profitable liquor distributorship in New Mexico and a majority stake in what was once the hottest hotel casino in Las Vegas.
George knows how badly Seattle wants a team, but the group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer will not negotiate against themselves. So George is inviting other players to the poker table to force the group’s hand.
The gullible politicians in Virginia appear to be enamored with the idea of sitting at the back-room table, blinded by the eye-popping cleavage and plush velvet chairs. Meantime, these poor saps are ready to spend their constituents’ money in hopes of getting an NBA franchise regardless of how large the buy in.
These elected leaders apparently don’t play poker and they clearly have not done their homework on the owners they seem so desperate to please.
As Matt Damon once mouthed in the film Rounders, “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”
Virginia Beach is being played.
The Maloofs will not think twice about walking away from the Virginia Beach group that involves Comcast-Spectacor, regardless of how good the cards may be in the Kings’ favor. This will happen before the NBA Board of Governors even has a chance to laugh down a proposal to move the team to the nation’s 43rd largest television market. (Never mind that the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads area is in the middle of two underperforming cities in Charlotte and Washington D.C.)
Continued regurgitation of the stories by media outlets in Sacramento only give credibility to a heavily flawed $350 million arena plan in Virginia that involves public backed loans and tax increases that will wind up handing the Maloofs $80 million dollars. This less than brilliant idea comes as Virginia Beach has made drastic cuts to schools and transportation to help balance the budget.
The rumors of relocation only help to divert Seattle’s eyes onto another opponent’s hand rather than the Maloofs whose chips are dangerously low.
It is all about creating a bidding war and for all of George’s past business failures, give him credit on this ploy, as he is getting closer to getting well over the $300 million the team is estimated to be worth.
George is enticing the Seattle group to put more money in the pot and when it comes time to make a move, Chris Hansen will over-bid. The Northwest native will have little choice.
Stuck in the middle of this game is Virginia Beach, and until they figure it out, the city will just be another player left disappointed after sitting down in a game of cards with George Maloof.
Bonus Content: Rob talks Kings relocation rumors on KJR Radio in Seattle with host Dave ‘Softy’ Mahler
Can’t see the audio player? Listen here.