A much talked-about meeting between Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Maloof brothers who own the Kings finally took place Wednesday evening, a source told NBA Confidential.
Both Joe and Gavin Maloof were present at the meeting, which took place before the Kings game against Portland at the Maloofs’ offices on the Power Balance Pavilion grounds. Johnson – who also spoke with NBA Commissioner David Stern on Wednesday – later confirmed the meeting with the Maloofs through an e-mailed statement to the media.
“I appreciate the Maloofs for meeting with me tonight,” he said in the statement. “We had a candid and productive conversation about our mutual goals and interests. I made clear that our community wants the Kings to stay, but we are fully aware that this is ultimately their decision.
“The Maloofs understand that regardless of what they choose, I will join with other leaders across the region to fight for what’s best for our community. This includes developing a new entertainment and sports complex, with or without the Kings. I fully expect to continue an open, direct and proactive dialogue with the Maloofs as we all move forward.”
It had been more than three weeks since Johnson called for the meeting to discuss the team’s future in Sacramento, but the Maloofs had been slow to match schedules with the Mayor while remaining focused on the possibility of moving to Anaheim. Johnson and the Sacramento City Council on Feb. 8 voted unanimously to select a group headed by developer David Taylor and venue group ICON to work on a feasibility plan for a downtown Sacramento arena.
The group was operating on a 90-day deadline, and Johnson stressed the importance of meeting with the Maloofs to get a better sense of what role, if any, they planned on playing in the local process. Johnson had also requested documents from the Maloofs pertaining to previous arena studies that he deemed key to the Taylor/ICON effort, but that request was ignored until Monday when some of the documents were delivered.
City officials, quite clearly, had taken the Maloofs’ unwillingness to engage in discussions as a strong sign that they were likely to leave town. Johnson and the Maloofs did cross paths on Monday, when they both attended the Kings game against the Clippers and agreed to meet. Both Joe and Gavin Maloof were present at the meeting.
The Maloofs have been granted an extension on the NBA’s deadline to file for relocation and now have until April 18 to decided whether they are prepared to leave Sacramento.