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How Four Ping Pong Balls Will Decide the Fate of the Kings in Sacramento

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 12:   Francisco Garcia #32 of the Sacramento Kings pauses in the game with the Los Angeles Lakers on December 12, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 112-103.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Jason ColdironCorrespondent IMay 19, 2009

With tonight's announcement of the draft order for this year's NBA lottery, the future of a franchise hangs in the balance.


The Sacramento Kings have the oldest non-renovated arena in the NBA.


City officials, owners, and the league have been researching, conducting studies and trying to find a way to get a new arena built in Sacramento. The process began early in this decade.


Time and time again, plans have fallen through, arguments among all concerned parties have raged and a fan-base that has loyally supported the team for over 20 years has been caught in the middle.


The situation has reached it's critical mass. Team owners and league officials have placed a deadline of March 2010 to have “significant progress with a light at the end of the tunnel” on a new arena.


Kings ownership (the Maloof family) has been losing money on the Kings for the last two years.


The new arena is paramount to the Kings staying in Sacramento for the long haul. Should an arena deal not be made, the team will be forced to relocate.


Crucial to the process, the Kings must improve on the court to help revitalize an arena that was once considered the biggest home- court advantage in the league.


How does this all relate to tonight?


Tonight the Kings will have the best chance at the number one pick (25 percent).


This is a draft class believed to have just two franchise players in forward Blake Griffin and Spanish guard Ricky Rubio.


Assuming the Kings get one of those two picks, all will be well. The team will get a franchise player to go along with an already potent young core. Future success on the court will be a virtual certainty.


Falling to the third or fourth pick would prove disastrous.


They would then still get a quality player, but miss out on their best chance to get a legitimate superstar to lead them.


Lacking a franchise player, the team's ceiling would be set much lower, making a return to greatness and profitability virtually impossible.


The Kings have to have one of these top two picks. They have to. Any other result will literally set in motion a series of events that will inevitably lead the team to relocation and leave a one- sport City without a team.


This is what it has come down to for the franchise and the City.


Tonight, four ping-pong balls will decide the fate of the franchise.

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