Jackson against move
The Sacramento Kings have until Tuesday to file a request with the NBA to move to Anaheim, though there’s already some public resistance from a fairly important neighbor.
The state capital seems like a perfect place for the Kings to reside, according to Phil Jackson.
“I think we’d like to see them stay there,” the Lakers coach said Wednesday.
Naturally, neither the Lakers nor the Clippers want to split their lucrative corner of the NBA pie with another Southern California tenant. Both Los Angeles teams would get a small share of a relocation fee paid by the Kings’ owners, but it wouldn’t be as financially sound as maintaining an absolute grip on sales of pro basketball tickets and merchandise in the region.
Even though Jackson said Los Angeles was not a “saturated town” because it still lacked pro football, he said three NBA teams would be “a little bit overdoing it.”
The Kings have struggled financially in recent seasons and have been unable to secure funding for a new arena. Jackson wasn’t completely unsympathetic to their plight.
“You don’t want to see a franchise go under simply because they can’t support themselves,” he said.
The Lakers expect to be spectators for the NBA’s trade deadline, hoping their roster, not to mention the league’s largest payroll, will live up to championship expectations.
A team official said there was “nothing cooking” in the final stretch of trade talks throughout the league. The deadline is Thursday at noon.
There is always a possibility something will fall on the Lakers’ doorstep in the final hours, but their roster is filled with weighty contracts that make it difficult to make trades. In fact, the Lakers have no players of note with expiring contracts since sending Sasha Vujacic’s valuable $5.5-million contract two months ago to New Jersey.
Assuming they don’t make any trades, the only possible roster change would be adding a veteran who was cut by another team. Tuesday is the deadline for players to be waived and still eligible for playoffs with another team.
Jackson, however, does not often use players acquired several months into the season. Pau Gasol was an obvious exception, but Jackson rarely played late-season acquisitions Ira Newble and Jim Jackson after they were waived by their teams and picked up by the Lakers.
The Utah Jazz shocked most NBA observers by trading All-Star guard Deron Williams to New Jersey on Wednesday.
“I guess it’s a strike-first kind of thing,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t planning on coming back there and they knew it.”
Williams’ exit to the Eastern Conference, along with Carmelo Anthony’s trade to New York, has transferred the balance of power to the East.
“I think that there’s been a real shift in momentum,” Jackson said.
The first question Jackson faced during his pregame session with reporters was not about the Lakers or the trade deadline. It was about Caltech ending a 26-year losing streak in conference games Tuesday.
“Congratulations,” Jackson said, smiling. “About time too.”