- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (AP) - The Sacramento Kings have taken yet another step toward a potential move to Southern California.

With the Kings exploring relocation to Anaheim, a Sacramento attorney representing the team’s owners filed for at least four federal trademark registrations this month.

Among the names filed for according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website were: Anaheim Royals, Anaheim Royals of Southern California, Orange County Royals and Los Angeles Royals. The filing was made March 3 by attorney Scott Hervey on behalf of the Crickets Corp., a Nevada-based company.

Hervey has worked for Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof in previous sports business dealings, including the Maloof Money Cup skateboarding competition in Orange County. A message left at Hervey’s office seeking comment was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Joe Maloof declined to comment about the trademark filing, and a message left with an NBA spokesman also was not immediately returned.

The name change would be a throwback to the franchise’s earlier days.

The well-traveled franchise was known as the Rochester Royals during the NBA’s first season in 1949, winning the 1951 title before moving to Cincinnati in 1957. When the Cincinnati Royals moved again to Kansas City in 1972, they agreed to change their nickname to avoid conflict with baseball’s Kansas City Royals, who joined the AL in 1969.

The Kings kept their nickname when they moved to Sacramento in 1985, but another name change is highly likely if the club relocates 35 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, where the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings have played since 1967.

Coincidentally, the Kings have played several home games this season in the throwback uniforms of those 1951 NBA champion Rochester Royals.

The NBA has already granted the Kings an extension until April 18 to file an application for relocation next season. Teams usually have until March 1 to apply for a move for the following season.

The Kings will have the opportunity to discuss their options at the NBA Board of Governors meetings April 14-15. Sacramento’s season finale is April 13 at home against the rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Sacramento has refused for years to build a publicly financed facility, which the Maloofs argue is crucial for the franchise’s long-term financial viability. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, met with the Maloofs last month and said he believed the “likelihood of them leaving is probably greater than them staying, but it’s not a done deal.”

Johnson also said Sacramento will work to build a new arena for an NBA franchise “with or without the Kings.”

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