Bill Simmons, a champion of the Seattle Sonics, who were for all intents and purposes robbed from the Emerald City by Clay Bennett, has weighed in on the Sacramento Kings' plight. He makes exceedingly fair points about the Maloofs' situation, David Stern's bizarre laissez-faire approach to NBA owners and the titled playing field that kills small market teams.
My prediction: the league will pay full price for the Kings (or close to it), use them as lockout leverage (along with the Hornets), then work with Johnson and Sacramento on finding new ownership after the lockout. It's the right move.
There are a couple problems with the theory, but the biggest one is perhaps that the NBA already owns one team, and Stern has promised to sell it for a profit so that the other 29 owners aren't burned, and that contracting a team would not result in a profit for those other 29 owners. It would net them a 1-in-29 chance to land Chris Paul. Doing this to two teams? Spend $600 million of the owners' money -- about $21 million per team -- on a negotiating ploy? The infusion of talent is not enough to offset the cost, except for the team that gets Paul. (Sorry, DeMarcus and Tyreke.)
Add in that the Maloofs, unlike George Shinn, don't want to sell and would either raise a legal fight or pop the asking price prohibitively high. Also, add in that a billionaire power broker, Ron Burkle, has already expressed public interest in buying the Kings and keeping them in Sacramento. (The NBA is believed to be holding out for a new Hornets owner who will pledge himself/herself to New Orleans. Larry Ellison has reportedly bid for the team, but would want to move it to San Jose, possibly as a part of a grudge with the Warriors, who he had tried to purchase last year.) Also, add in that no one takes Stern's contraction threat seriously, except for LeBron James, who does not know what contraction even means.
So while buying the Kings and using them as lockout leverage might be the right move, it is not a remotely plausible move.
(That said, it's an excellent column, and though a few of the minor points about the finances of the team and Maloofs are off, one would be hard-pressed to find better advocacy for the Sacramento market and a new revenue sharing paradigm in the NBA.)