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NBA: Kings arena deal dead

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How soon do they start up the moving vans?

It appears the Kings have all but left Sacramento as NBA Commissioner David Stern announced in New York on Friday that the team's arena deal with the city was dead.

"It's not going to happen, but I can say the city has stepped up," he said. "We have nothing further to give, to cajole, to yell, or all the various ways I've tried to keep the parties on track to get what we thought was a win-win in Sacramento."

Stern said the NBA had offered to help the Maloof family reach their share of the $391 building costs. The league would have given the team $7 million league funds to the project and allow the Maloofs to borrow $67 million on the NBA's credit line.

Stern said the Maloofs had buyer's remorse and were worried the deal would overburden their debt load. He would not say if the Kings would be in Sacramento beyond 2013.

"I know we're scheduling them into Power Balance Pavilion for next year," he said. "It just wouldn't pay for me to talk anything beyond that."

Barring another last-minute agreement, it appears the move opens the door for the Kings to reopen negotiations with Anaheim's Honda Center or other cities looking to acquire an NBA franchise -- like Seattle, Las Vegas, Kansas City and Vancouver.

Stern praised the city for creating the arena deal, but said the Maloofs had the right as owners to reject the projects.

Declining attendance and a decade of failed arena votes and proposals had caused the Maloofs to seek a deal last year to move the King to Anaheim, Calif., and rename it the Anaheim Royals.

Last April, the Maloofs asked the NBA to approve the move. However, before Johnson convinced the owners to give them a year to carve out an arena project. Following 10 months of negotiating, Johnson, the Maloofs and Stern joyfully announced a day after the February NBA All-Star Game in Orlando they reached a handshake agreement for $391 million arena near downtown Sacramento.

The deal was proposed to finance the arena from future city parking revenues, the Maloofs and AEG, the corporation which was to run the facility.

Despite term-sheet approval by the city council, the arena project hit a number of snags during the past two weeks. The Maloofs released a letter to the city outlining flaws in the agreement and discussed those issues Thursday with the other owners at the NBA meetings.

The Sacramento mayor and former NBA point guard did not comment on the trip, but his office said the city will not renegotiate with team on arena details.

The meeting, at the urging of NBA Commissioner David Stern, occurs of after two weeks of disagreements that began when the Maloofs said their never agreed to pay $3.2 million in pre-development costs that were specified in the term sheet. The Maloofs also filed a Public Records Act request for all correspondence between the city, the NBA and AEG.

The dispute reached an apex Friday when Maloofs staged a press conference with Christopher Thornberg and claimed the arena would be a financial disaster for the team and the city. That announcement came hours before they family members were scheduled to meet with Johnson at the behest of Stern to try to save a deal.

--The new owner will be an old owner in the Big Easy.

NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Friday that the league-owned New Orleans Hornets have been sold to Tom Benson -- who also owns the NFL New Orleans Saints.

The sale brings to close 16 months of uncertainty for the 24-year-old franchise that already has played in three cities.

The NBA Board of Governors approved the sale to Benson for $338 million at its meetings, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Benson told the Times-Picayune he will be the sole owner.

"I'm not too good with partners," he said

Benson originally bid in January for the team, but balked when he thought the league's asking price was too high. He jumped back into the bidding because, as he told the Times-Picayune, he thought other absentee ownership groups might try to move the team despite a new lease agreement at New Orleans Arena that runs through 2024.

"We really never stopped talking to them (the NBA). With out of state owners. . . . I called David (Stern, NBA commissioner) and said, 'Look I'm the only guy you can count on who's really going to stay here. Let's work this thing out.' "

Benson said Dennis Lauscha, the Saints' chief financial officer, will oversee both the Saints and the Hornets. But he said they will have separate management operations.

"We're going to operate this as a separate unit altogether," Benson said. "I don't see right now that we're going to be able to interlock a lot of stuff. . . . We're going to have a management staff there just like you do in any other business."

Benson outbid an offer from a group including California swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal and former minority owner Gary Chouest. Bhathal and Chouest had separate bids at one time, but combined their bids.

The league acquired the team 16 months ago from founding owner George Shinn for $318 million to prevent him from selling to an investor who wanted to move the franchise, which was founded in 1988.

Shinn had moved the franchise from Charlotte to New Orleans in 2002 after dwindling attendance. The team spent 2005-07 in Oklahoma City while New Orleans was recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

The Hornets have faced more attendance issues since returning to New Orleans.

Benson signed the purchase agreement Thursday night, the Times-Picayune reported. Benson will assume $125 debts for the team.

Benson, who made his fortune as a Texas car dealer, purchased the Saints in 1985. They have made nine playoff appearances under Benson and won the Super Bowl in 2009. He also once owned 10 percent of the San Antonio Spurs.

Benson will push to rename the franchise to match the region's rich heritage.

"We need to find a name like (Jazz)," Benson said, referring to New Orleans first NBA team that relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979. "Whether we can get that or let us use that, you've got to know we're working on it. We'd like to change it tomorrow. We have not gotten that approved, but we're not letting up on it, either. Because we've got a good relationship with the commissioner and his people and we're going to be on them daily to do something."

--Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard reportedly has flown Friday to Los Angeles to visit a specialist for a second opinion on his back injury.

Howard has missed four of the team's last six games before deciding to fly to L.A. for a second opinion, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Earlier Friday, the Sentinel reported Howard would miss tonight's home game against Atlanta as well as Sunday's game at Cleveland and Monday's home game vs. Philadelphia.

The Magic, who are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a week to go in the regular season, will miss the All-Star center. He has been a polarizing figure this season: Besides averaging 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds a game, he has waffled on trade demands before committing to another season with the Magic

Also, he was the center of controversy last when coach Stan Van Gundy said Howard was trying get him fired. Howard denied the allegation.

--Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers reportedly said Friday that guard Ray Allen will miss the next two games because of an ankle injury.

Rivers said Allen will not play in Friday's game against Toronto and Saturday at New Jersey, according to ComcastSportsNet New England.

"But we'll see after that," said Rivers of Allen, who has missed Allen has missed a 12 games this season. "It's not that serious. It's just swelling."

Allen last played Tuesday.in a victory over Miami. He has suffered from frequent swelling in the ankle, averaging 14.2 points a game this season.

--Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani has been shut down for the season, the Toronto Raptors announced.

The forward/center had been suffering from lingering effects of a calf strain that caused him to miss 27 games. He left Sunday's game at Oklahoma City midway through the second quarter and had yet to return to action.

The team said tests on the injury Thursday caused the Raptors to rest Bargnani for the rest of the season to avoid further injury.

Bargnani, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, has played 31 games this season, averaging a team-high 19.5 points, with 5.5 rebounds. He has averaged 15.4 points and 4.9 rebounds a game in six seasons with the Raptors.
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