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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Relocating a franchise is rare, but many are speculating the Maloofs might try it with the Sacramento Kings after the downtown arena deal officially imploded last week.
The Kings moved from Kansas City to Sacramento 27 years ago. Former Kings executive Greg Van Dusen helped orchestrate the deal.
“It was a huge and tremendous effort,” he said. “It’s a difficult process, no doubt about it.”
Van Dusen says before the NBA Board of Governors gave Sacramento the green light, there were countless obstacles the team faced, like planning an arena, convincing the league about projected ticket sales and several other make-it-or-break-it steps.
And Van Dusen says that’s part of what makes relocation so difficult, and rare. In fact, since the Kings moved to Sacramento only three other teams have relocated. Seattle moved to Oklahoma City, Charlotte jetted to New Orleans and Vancouver migrated to Memphis. All of those moves happened since 2001.
“The league has been healthy,” Van Dusen said. “The league has been doing very well, and leagues don’t like relocation. It makes things look like they are not stable.”
The infrequency of relocation extends to the three other major sports as well. In the NFL and NHL, there have been five moves since 1985. And in Major League Baseball, the only team to move was Montreal to Washington.
And Van Dusen says the Maloofs face a road block that his group didn’t face back in 1985.
“The most difficult process is finding a place to do better, and I don’t think there is a place to do better,” he said.
The Maloofs flirted with the idea last season after negotiating with Anaheim to move the team there but ultimately were convinced to stay in Sacramento.
Even with the downtown arena deal falling apart, the Maloofs say they’re committed to Sacramento, but even the players are wondering about the team’s future beyond next season, when the family can again file for relocation.
“It’s in the back of your mind a little, I’d say at least 5 percent just because it’s important,” forward Jason Thompson said.
Thompson himself may be relocating. He’s a restricted free agent, meaning the Kings can match offers from other teams to keep him in Sacramento – at least for one more year.