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Amid off-court rumors, Kings play host to Mavs
(Sports Network) - With reports surfacing that the Sacramento Kings will be sold and relocated to Seattle next season, it will be interesting to see how they respond Thursday night when they host the Dallas Mavericks.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday that the Maloof brothers, current owners of the Kings, will sell the team to a group led by Seattle hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer.
According to the reports, and reports by TNT's David Aldridge, the deal has not been finalized yet, but in its current structure, the Kings would move to Seattle, a city without a team since the Oklahoma City Thunder left in 2008.
Nothing is ever official with the Maloofs until it's official. They backed out of a deal last-minute to stay in Sacramento after city officials negotiated a new arena for the team.
The Kings flirted with the Virginia Beach area, but it seems this is the closest a deal has been to being consummated.
Although, Sacramento mayor and former Phoenix Suns point guard Kevin Johnson said at a press conference on Wednesday he wants to try and find a local buyer.
"For the first time, they have publicly shown the desire to sell the team," he said of the Maloofs. "I heard from a number of people who said, 'If the team was ever for sale, let us know.'"
On the floor, the Kings have dropped two in a row, but prior to the little slump, they had won five of seven. The Kings fell at home on Monday to the Memphis Grizzlies, 113-81, after a Saturday night loss in Brooklyn to the Nets.
The Kings and Mavs met on Dec. 10 in Dallas and the Mavs came away with a 119-96 win. Kings coach Keith Smart will employ a different strategy, especially since future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki is back in the lineup.
"A lot of plays are going to run through him - he's a willing passer, as well," Smart said of Nowitzki. "He's a shooter, who's going to space the floor, which opens up driving lanes for other players."
The Kings are 3-20 recently against the Mavericks, but this Dallas team is struggling. The Mavericks have lost four in a row, including a 99-93 setback Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers, and 13 of their last 15.
The Mavs, who conclude a three-game road trip, blew a three-point lead to start the fourth quarter, and, despite forcing 21 turnovers, couldn't stop the balanced Clippers' attack.
Darren Collison led the Mavs with 22 points, followed by 17 from O.J. Mayo and 15 from Nowitzki.
"We've got to move on to tomorrow and we've got to play better tomorrow," said head coach Rick Carlisle.
01/10 10:29:50 ET