Posted by: Kingsguru21 | March 23, 2010

News N Notes (and opinions & words about John Thomas)

I’m doing this for 2 reasons. The first is to note that Tyreke Evans was on the flight with the team to New Jersey and is still expected to play in Boston. The fact that he was on the flight is considered a good sign. This is according to Jason Jones.

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The 2nd piece of news is purely related to the Kings business, and the reason I’m writing this. (I would have centered this completely around John Thomas and his relationship to the team.)

John Thomas is out after apparently not satisfying the Maloof’s in creativity purposes. Here’s the money shot from Ailene Voisin:

His ultimate demise, however, is directly linked to his lack of creativity regarding ticket plans and promotional packages during the team’s ongoing rebuilding process. In contrast to other NBA teams who reduced prices and offer more flexible packages when teams struggles, Thomas resisted, arguing that to do so damaged the “brand.” Additionally, he was reluctant to market the game’s marquee players during their visits to Arco Arena – another NBA marketing staple. When the Maloofs began re-evaluating the business side last spring and during the offseason, they became increasingly concerned about the lack of innovation and turned to Kaplan for advice as the season approached.

Hmmm, so maybe that’s one reason (there are several) there wasn’t a lot of people in the lower bowl. It’s pretty embarrassing that the Kings couldn’t get more people to see a young exciting team out to Arco. Maybe John Thomas’ attitude wasn’t the only problem, but it clearly was ONE problem. To that end, if you read through Voisin’s piece, is that you’ll notice a big shakeup. In fact, there was another more interesting tidbit more than John Thomas’ demise:

In the two most significant moves, Kings legal consultant Matina Kolokotronis was named president of business operations and assistant general manager Jason Levien assumes additional duties as the club’s general counsel and senior vice-president. Additionally, John Rinehart is promoted to senior vice-president of the business department, while outside consultant Kevin Kaplan is expected to become even more closely involved with ticket sales and marketing.

This is interesting on a number of levels. This essentially means that Jason Levien is going to be asked to take on more “legal” duties than he has before, and also got a promotion or something. I do wonder what this means to his basketball status within the organization, but mostly I wonder what it means in terms of his status as a potential GM to succeed Geoff Petrie. (This won’t happen soon.) How this effects any succession with Geoff Petrie remains to be seen and I suspect some of this will have to do with Jason Levien and Mike Petrie (who was scouting for the Kings and recently got a promotion himself).

If I were to give suggestions on what I think would work in terms of raising ticket sales, it’d go along the lines of this:

1) Slash the prices significantly for the upper bowl. Slash the lower bowl some but not a lot. Those are premium seats, and the team has the right to charge more for them. Lowering ticket prices may hurt that way, but there are other things at stake too. You can only charge high prices for all seats when the team is of championship caliber. Otherwise, keeping prices so high that the average joe who cares about the team, even though they are still rebuilding, is dumb.

2) Do promotions like the Kings did during the Wizards game. Only when you do, put enough staff on hand so that it makes it reasonable to attend those promotions. I’ve been told by 2 gentleman who went that the lines were so long that they ended up grabbing a beer and waiting in line again. What’s the point of offering a 1$ beer if nobody can get the actual beer? (Oh, and the responsibility point. The Kings are not responsible for others irresponsible actions with alcohol. That was the same bullshit argument that saw the US adopt prohibition. No thanks.)

3) Market the hell out of the non Lebron-Kobe superstars like Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade and others. These are all big names and NBA fans would likely feel very differently about attending a game if they weren’t there.

John Thomas is not someone who I think is all of the problem. Obviously the economy in Sac is a very sticky point. The ticket prices are probably a bit too high, and that remains, I think, the greatest issue. Clearly it’s a re-structuring that says the Maloof’s are going to get active in this particular business issue. I know there was also the note of Joe Maloof becoming CEO and Gavin Maloof becoming President. It’s a major point, and a significant one. Whomever made the decision with the family, and it was probably a family decision, it’s clearly about tomorrow as it is today. As the team winds down the season, with a significant nod towards gaining a lot of PR traction with the impending Tyreke ROTY award coming, it’s going to help sales. But a big part of Voisin’s point was that John Thomas alienated season ticket holders. Yowzah, I mean, why? I can’t imagine why owning Kings tickets was all that worth it the last several years. (And, I do thank those that continue to think it’s worth it.)

Even TZ threw Thomas under the bus in his synopsis of this situation. He rarely throws anybody under the bus. When he does, it’s usually because there is a lot of evidence suggesting it.

As far as me? Nobody seems to like John Thomas. Ailene Voisin is usually glowing of the Maloof’s, and over the years she has said nothing very glowing about Thomas. It is interesting that the Joe Maloof mentioned the TV deal that John Thomas helped the franchise get from CSN. I think the lack of commercials is a big reason he was ousted. I can’t speak to how many there are, but when I lived there several years ago there wasn’t many then. And that was with a better “economy” so to speak. And when i saw games locally this past December, it wasn’t very different. I think that, and the season ticket point, is why John Thomas got ousted.

Let me leave you with this (food for thought if you will): The Kings are not showing signs that they are weak or lack fortitude. Lacking fortitude would have not been firing Thomas due to that either A) you didn’t want to pay someone else or B) you didn’t know what a better solution is. Clearly, A isn’t a problem, and B is not something that any competent business can ever afford to admit regardless of where the actual truth lay.

The Kings do not have real problems within their organization. I have questioned (as you can read above) how the Kings have went about their business decisions, but that will change. Unlike the basketball side of this, though, this represents a significant departure for the Maloof’s. Unlike Rick Adelman, and Geoff Petrie for that matter, John Thomas was the Maloof’s guy that they brought in. This shows that they will do what it takes to make their businesses run even if it’s at the cost of a personal relationship. (Which is why I think it took so long. I can understand that. I won’t begrudge the Maloof’s on that particular score.)

If you want a franchise in disarray, real or imagined, just go read Blazers Edge (among other sites). The front page is littered with news on how the franchise (the Vulcans in particular–the Vulcans are Paul Allen’s security and enforcement division) are hanging Kevin Pritchard out to dry with the Tom Penn firing. You have Larry Miller (the head of the Vulcans as I understand it–but I may be wrong there) who runs the business side of the Blazer operation. You had Tom Penn and Kevin Pritchard on the basketball side of the operation (with Paul Allen’s input and Nate McMillan’s as well) running things until recently. Yet, in the past week after Penn’s firing, it’s gotten very ugly. It suggests (ha-suggests!) all is not well or smooth in Blazermania. When Blazermaniac’s don’t believe it, you shouldn’t either.

A new era that comes with an united and powerful basketball side headed by Geoff Petrie was ushered in as recently as 15 months ago. This is especially important given that the Maloof’s essentially handed the basketball keys to Petrie and said here you go. Now a new era in the business side of the franchise seems to be headed into new heights with different (and new) idea’s on how to make the franchise become more optimal on that side of things. Even better, with the involvement of the Maloof’s on the business side, perhaps they will be less likely to interfere with the basketball decisions. (A big point in this realm is Ricky Rubio vs Tyreke Evans. A lesser organization would have taken Rubio.)

If nothing else, don’t consider the Maloof’s stale. Peanuts they are not.

UPDATE: Sam Amick weighs in at Fanhouse. (It feels weird writing that.) Must. Read. Now.

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