Kings move would hurt Lakers' TV deal?

Updated: March 28, 2011, 10:27 AM ET
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- If the Sacramento Kings are successfully able to move to Anaheim, the Los Angeles Lakers' lucrative 20-year television deal with Time Warner Cable won't be as lucrative as it once was, multiple Lakers sources confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Last month the Lakers agreed to an unprecedented 20-year television agreement with Time Warner Cable to distribute Lakers games and original programming across two regional sports networks in HD that will include the nation's first Spanish-language regional sports network. Although finances of the deal were not released, some reports at the time pegged the value of the pact at $3 billion, a figure Time Warner Cable and the Lakers have since refuted.

If a third NBA team moves into the market, however, the Lakers' television deal will decrease by about just under 10 percent, sources said without giving a breakdown of the numbers affected.

The Lakers' agreement, which begins with the 2012-13 season and covers all preseason, regular-season and postseason games not nationally telecast, was viewed as a major blow for current rights holders Fox Sports West and KCAL-TV. The Kings, however, could lessen that blow and create competition for viewers and fans in Orange County if they filled the void left by the Lakers on both outlets.

In October when the Lakers played a preseason game at Anaheim's Honda Center, which could be the future home of the Kings, Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn't seem to be entirely against the idea of an NBA team moving to Orange County.

"The possibility is that they are oversaturating the market but this is a big enough metropolitan territory that they certainly could have a team," Jackson said before the Lakers played the Utah Jazz on Oct. 19. "I'm not so sure the Honda Center is in the form that modern-day NBA arenas are like in this day and age but they could renovate that and do some things with that."

Jackson, however, was far less welcoming when asked about the possibility of the Kings moving to Anaheim on Friday before the Lakers played the Clippers.

"What other metropolitan area has three teams in it? It's ridiculous to put another franchise in this market," Jackson said. "It just doesn't make sense to do that."

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported the Lakers and Clippers have reached out to owners around the league to gain the requisite support from other teams needed to block the Kings' move but aren't hopeful that they will be successful if it comes to a vote. The eventual vote will be decided by simple majority, meaning the Lakers and Clippers must find 14 other teams to side with them to prevent the Kings from moving to Anaheim.

The Lakers' best hope of reclaiming lost revenue is citing their potentially diminished television contract to elicit a hefty relocation fee from the Kings. Relocation fees in the NBA are "discretionary" and established by the league's board of governors. The last time an NBA team relocated, the Seattle Sonics were forced to pay a $30 million relocation fee when they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.

The Kings must file for relocation with the NBA by April 18.

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com