From Comcast SportsNetSEATTLE (AP) -- Investor Chris Hansen has contacted the Maloof family about buying the Sacramento Kings, setting up the possibility of the NBA's return to Seattle.Hansen's interest was confirmed Wednesday by people with knowledge of the situation. They spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because no deal has been reached.One person said the Kings could sell for more than 500 million. The Kings' future in Sacramento has been uncertain because the Maloofs and the city haven't been able to come up with a long-term arena solution.Yahoo! Sports first reported the discussions between the Kings and Hansen. Yahoo! reported a possible sale could land the Kings in Seattle for the 2013-14 season, where the team would play at KeyArena as a temporary home until a new arena is constructed."I know as much as you do," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said when asked about the situation. "If it's true, ain't it cool?"His counterpart in Sacramento thought the news anything but cool. At an afternoon news conference, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Wednesday was significant because for the first time Kings fans know the team is for sale. Johnson said he would do all he could to try to find a buyer with a Sacramento connection to possibly purchase the team and keep it in California's capital city."We're going to fight, and we're used to being in this situation," he said.Hansen, a Seattle native and San Francisco-based investor, reached agreement with local governments in Seattle last October on plans to build a 490 million arena near the city's other stadiums, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. As part of the agreement, no construction will begin until all environmental reviews are completed and a team has been secured.Hansen's group is expected to pitch in 290 million in private investment toward the arena, along with helping to pay for transportation improvements in the area around the stadiums. The plans also call for the arena to be able to handle a future NHL franchise. The remaining 200 million in public financing would be paid back with rent money and admissions taxes from the arena, and if that money falls short, Hansen would be responsible for making up the rest. Other investors in the proposed arena include Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom department store family.Hansen's goal has been to return the SuperSonics to the Puget Sound after they were moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008. Asked in September if he could envision a team being in Seattle for the 2013 season, Hansen was cautious about finding an option that quickly.The NBA had no comment. Representatives for Hansen did not return messages seeking comment. Any franchise looking to relocate must submit its plans to the NBA by March 1 and the move must be approved by the league."As we have said for nearly a year, we will not comment on rumors or speculation about the Sacramento Kings franchise," Maloof family spokesman Eric Rose said when contacted Wednesday by the AP.The Kings' asking price would top the NBA-record 450 million the Golden State Warriors sold for in July 2010. Johnson said he's had past discussions with more than one group about possibly stepping forward as owners if the Kings were up for sale."All indications that I have seen and read and heard is they are exploring opportunities to sell the team, and that is public and that is the first I have ever heard," Johnson said. "We need to put ourselves in a position to find an ownership group and buyers to keep the team here in Sacramento."Johnson said he had not spoken with any members of the Maloof family or NBA Commissioner David Stern on Wednesday.News of the discussions came a day after officials in Virginia Beach, Va., announced they were dropping their efforts to build a new arena. Virginia Beach had been reported as a relocation option for the Kings.The Maloofs backed out of a tentative 391 million deal for a new downtown arena with Sacramento last year, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate. Johnson and the Kings broke off all negotiations in the summer with the Kings, saying the deal didn't make financial sense for the franchise.In 2011, the Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim before Johnson convinced the NBA to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena. At one point, Johnson seemed so certain the team was gone he called the process a "slow death" and compared the city's efforts to keep the Kings a "Hail Mary."Johnson made a desperate pitch to the NBA Board of Governors in April 2011, promising league owners the city would find a way to help finance a new arena to replace the team's current outdated suburban facility. That pitch bought the Kings time, before the brokered deal between the city and the Maloofs fell apart last year.Johnson said the Maloof family still must repay a 77 million loan to the city and other lenders.While some players around the league took to Twitter on Wednesday to express their excitement about the possibility of the NBA returning to Seattle -- especially those players from the Puget Sound area -- others were more reserved."There's a part of me that's disappointed because Sacramento, I've enjoyed my times. I think Sacramento is a great town," said current Denver coach and former Seattle coach George Karl. "I'm not going to lie -- I'm happy that Seattle is going to have a team more than Sacramento. But I am disappointed that Sacramento can't keep their team."
For the early hours of Sunday afternoon, the game in Soldier Field had the makings of turning into one of those, “First prize, two tickets to a Bears game. Second prize, four tickets.” The Bears lurched their way through the first 28 minutes of their game against the woeful San Francisco 49ers without a point, without even a completed pass.
From that point on, or maybe even at points during that stretch, the Bears (3-9) were demonstrating why John Fox is on track to be their head coach in 2017 (and perhaps why Chip Kelly might very well not be the 49ers’ then). And why the organization is not as down on the team outlook as some outsiders have been.
One team – San Francisco, now 1-11 and losers of 11 straight, had nothing to play for and it showed. The other had equally little at issue, and yet took the yards, the game and ultimately the heart away from the 49ers.
The result was a 26-6 Bears victory, which may not mean a lot to anyone not obsessed with where this dismal season lands the Bears as far as draft position. But the way it happened did matter to a team trying to accomplish something in spite of losing effectively half its starters throughout the first three quarters of the season.
The 49ers played like a team that folds. The Bears obviously again did not, with a core of players that simply do not accept that.
“That’s our identity, the identity of this team,” left tackle Charles Leno said simply. He paused, then added, “No quit.”
Back in training camp the Bears extended the contract of rush linebacker Willie Young. Talking about it at the time, Young was emotional about what that gesture meant to him, and what the Bears now meant to him. Young has been one of the veteran leaders who have established that identity and character. If you don’t like John Fox, Ryan Pace or whomever, then you see what you want to or don’t. But the character has undergone a fundamental shift from the Marc Trestman/Brandon Marshall/Martellus Bennett times.
“We just continue to keep on doing what we’ve been doing,” Young said, adding quickly, “besides the [losing] part. Preparation has been consistent. As you can see in a lot of the close games that we’ve had, it’s just a matter of us finishing.
“It’s not a lack of how hard we play.”
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Winning is all that ultimately matters, and preparation, effort, leadership, blahblahblah doesn’t matter much if the result is as it has been.
But what was starkly evident on Sunday, aside from the failure to fold after a pair of special-teams screw-ups and falling behind 6-0 in the second quarter, it was that the future was on display.
Dismiss the victory because of the level of the competition, but the Bears recovered and pulled away from the 49ers in large part because of players in their first and second NFL years.
Jordan Howard (rookie) rushed for 117 yards and 3 touchdowns. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (rookie) in his third NFL start, against the No. 4 rush offense in the league, had 9 solo tackles. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman (second year) had a sack. Center Cody Whitehair (rookie) is the linchpin of an offensive line that is key to the Bears averaging 4.4 yards per rush and has allowed one sack in the last 74 pass plays. Deon Bush started his second game at safety.
Leonard Floyd (rookie) finished with 2 sacks, giving him 7 for the season despite missing three games to injury. One Floyd sack in Green Bay produced a strip and touchdown; one Sunday resulted in a safety.
"One of my favorite things to watch is how the young boy Floyd wants it so bad,” said defensive end Akiem Hicks. “Just his energy. It excites me so much because I remember how I was when I was a rookie. Just chomping at the bit and wanting to be out there on every single play, and try to make one every play. Knowing that as part of the game you have to rush as a unit, and sometimes you have to give those positions up. I think he's done a great job of doing that and rushing within our system."
And maybe that’s the real point, beyond the record: Whether the Bears’ “system” is getting buy-in, which the effort throughout Sunday and the past several weeks have suggested.
“Hats off to those guys in the locker room,” Fox said. “A lot of the young guys had to answer the bell and they’ve done an outstanding job. It has been a lot of different guys having to step in and they’ve done a great job.”
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Seems like every hour another juicy rumor surfaces in which the White Sox are considering the unthinkable: a trade for five-time All-Star Chris Sale.
With baseball’s Winter Meetings starting on Monday, those reports have begun to arrive at a furious pace. Team A has shown interest in Sale and plans to make a push at the four-day conference. Team B doesn’t think it can meet the White Sox reported asking price. Teams C and D have made their top prospects untouchable in a potential deal for Sale.
While the White Sox won’t reveal their direction until they make their first few major moves, the tone of most reports has made it clear they’re at least entertaining a trade for Sale, who has finished in the top six in the American League Cy Young Award vote in each of his five seasons as a starting pitcher.
In the past, trading Sale has been an afterthought as the White Sox have envisioned the lanky left-hander leading them back to the postseason. But those days appear to be numbered. To understand how they’ve reached this point, where Rick Hahn isn’t just humoring his fellow general managers by picking up the phone but is actively listening on Sale, you only need to look at the White Sox roster over the past five seasons.
While the White Sox have an extremely competitive top half of the roster, one that could seemingly compete on an annual basis in the AL Central, much of the rest has been comprised of what Hahn himself referred to as “stop-gaps” and “half measures.” Since the start of the 2012 season, more than 30 players who have appeared for the White Sox made their final major league appearances on the South Side. Several others made brief stopovers but have spent the rest of their time in the minors, another country or retired. Were they to begin a rebuild and bolster the farm system, Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams could better position themselves to avoid the use of short-term players and quick fixes to supplement the roster for a team that hasn’t reached the postseason since 2008.
“I think we’re veering away from the standpoint of looking for stopgaps,” Hahn said last month at the GM meetings in Phoenix. “A lot of what we did in the last few years had been trying to enhance the short-term potential of the club to put ourselves in a position to win immediately. I feel the approach at this point is focusing on longer-term benefits. It doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily be in a good position in 2017. It means that our targets and whatever we’re hoping to accomplish have a little more longer term fits in nature.”
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Whereas they were taking a step back in 2014, the White Sox at least went into four of the last five seasons with hopes of reaching the postseason.
But those aspirations were dashed in part because of a thin farm system. Whether depleted by an international program that was dormant for five seasons, trades of prospects to fill holes or previous draft misses, the White Sox have had few internal answers to cover for injuries or underperformance. That lack of depth has led to a number of short-term signings or bargain trades in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.
Last season, the White Sox signed Jimmy Rollins, Mat Latos and Austin Jackson in February and March in hopes of providing depth at shortstop, in the rotation and in center field. Those moves are typical of the way the club has hoped to plug holes the past few years.
Rollins and Latos were released in June while Jackson suffered a season-ending injury. Jackson is a hopeful free agent this offseason and should find a home, but Rollins didn’t find a new team after the White Sox released him and Latos made six appearances with Washington, compiling a 6.52 ERA.
From the 2015 roster, Adam LaRoche retired and Mike Olt and Hector Noesi haven’t resurfaced in the majors since departing the White Sox. Kyle Drabek appeared in one game for Arizona before he was released last July.
One-time 2014 closer Ronald Belisario played six games for Tampa Bay in 2015 and sat out last season. Moises Sierra has spent time in the minors with Kansas City and Miami. Adrian Nieto played 37 games with Miami’s Triple-A squad in 2016, Felipe Paulino and Dayan Viciedo finished the season in Japan, Maikel Cleto split the year between Mexico and Atlanta’s farm system and Frank Francisco hasn’t played since winter ball in 2015.
Michael Taylor and Matt Lindstrom retired, Jordan Danks didn’t play in 2016 and Taylor Thompson, Scott Snodgress and Charlie Leesman all played independent ball.
Jeff Keppinger hasn’t returned to the big leagues since he was released in early 2014. The same goes for Hector Gimenez, Dewayne Wise, Tyler Greene, Blake Tekotte, Ramon Troncoso, David Purcey, Brian Omogrosso and Deunte Heath from the 2013 club.
Casper Wells briefly played with Philadelphia after he was waived in 2013 while Kevin Youkilis only played 28 games that season, a year after the White Sox acquired him on the cheap from Boston. Orlando Hudson, Kosuke Fukudome, Ray Olmedo, Jose Lopez, Will Ohman, Brian Bruney and Leyson Septimo never appeared in the majors after 2012.
Starting with Hahn’s declaration in July that the White Sox were mired in mediocrity, the club has made its frustrations very clear. Whereas the Sale rumors once seemed far-fetched, they might not be this time as the White Sox look to replenish an organization short on talent past the very top portion.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve had our conversations internally with Jerry and Kenny and the coaches and our staff and our scouts where we realize putting ourselves in a better position for the long term is the more prudent path,” Hahn said.