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Rumors fly about possible Kings move, Maloofs deny claims – sort of

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It’s all over mainstream media: Virginia Beach is making a pitch to steal Sacramento’s beloved Kings, and team owners, the Maloofs, are buying in – but a spokesman for the Maloofs said in an email yesterday not to believe all the hype.

“The franchise is not going to discuss which cities have approached the organization and are not going to comment on every rumor,” Maloof spokesman Eric W. Rose said in the email. “The sole focus of everyone within the Sacramento Kings organization continues to be to put a winning team on the court as we look forward to what promises to be an exciting 2012-13 NBA season.”

Wait. What?

Notice that Rose makes no commitment with his statement beyond the current season – and that may be worrisome to Kings fans who pushed hard this year to keep the team.

A simple omission? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be the first time words have been carefully crafted for the sake of positive spin in the years-long Kings saga: Remember the “we have a deal!” announcement in Orlando? That statement quickly morphed into, “It was a handshake deal,” before finally being denounced by the Maloofs as “insulting. We did not have a deal there.”

The most recent round of Kings-may-be-relocating scuttlebutt started with a report in the Hampton Roads Business Journal in Virginia that the Maloofs were “in talks” to propose moving the team to Virginia Beach.

The report cited unnamed sources that confirmed a presentation to the Virginia Beach City Council about the possible move, and an expected formal announcement from the Maloofs on Aug. 29.

NBA officials responded that they had not heard of any planned move from the Maloofs. The team is required to remain in Sacramento for the 2012-13 season because no relocation request was filed or approved by the deadline earlier this year, however team owners once again have until March 1 to file for relocation with the NBA for the 2013-14 season.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who heard the news as he was traveling to New York City for the Obama Classic basketball fundraiser, tweeted “I spoke w/h the NBA, neither they nor my office has been contacted by the Kings. At this point there is nothing new to report.”

R.E. Graswich, Johnson’s former special advisor and current member of the Think Big Sacramento coalition, also responded to the news via Twitter, saying, “Kings & Virginia Beach chatter all assumption, not fact.”

When contacted, George Maloof would not confirm or deny that his company was in talks with the city of Virginia Beach, according to the Hampton Roads article, and Joe Maloof denied Thursday that he had any talks with Virginia Beach, according to The New York Times.

Local fan reactions on Facebook and Twitter have ranged from disbelief to disgust – including a few “colorful” remarks about the Maloofs’ integrity – and some former season ticket holders tweeted that they have either returned their tickets or refused to purchase any this season because of the uncertainty surrounding the team staying in Sacramento.

What do you think? Is it just one more rumor, as Rose said in his email, or will the Kings really be on their way out this time? Take our poll and let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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