So where do the Sonics go from here?
After Thursday’s shocking revelation (well, not so shocking really) that Clay Bennett and his partners were sending titillating e-mails to one another regarding relocating the team to Oklahoma City while denying it to everyone – including Bennett’s evil overlord, Commissioner David Stern.
Gov. Gregoire stuck her finger in the air yesterday, saw the wind was blowing in a new direction, and, being a wise politician, firmly planted herself on the anti-Bennett side. While KING-5 failed to show it on their evening news, the Governor also decried the Holocaust, rainy days, and mosquitoes.
The NBA is in full no comment mode, hiding behind the usual screen of “no comments on ongoing litigation” nonsense you usually hear from people who are forced to talk about items of which they do not wish. You’ll note, of course, that David Stern had no trouble discussing the Seattle situation – at length – plenty of times in the past, including the suit between the city and the Sonics, when it suited his interests. As they say, though, silence can be deafening, and Stern’s quietness in this instance speaks volumes about how bitter he must be.
Being shown to be a sucker in the national press can do that to a guy, you know.
But back to the main point, what happens next? A multitude of options await, but here is one hypothetical scenario:
1. Prior to the Board of Governors meeting on April 17 and 18, Bennett and Stern meet to discuss the situation. A humbled Bennett is forced to kneel before his master.
2. The BOG postpones any decision on the relocation until after the court case is decided or a concurrent settlement is reached.
3. Prior to the case, Bennett reaches out to the city again with a new offer, considerably north of the $26.5 million he previously offered. The city tells him to go e-mail himself.
4. As the court case nears, Gov. Gregoire comes up with a letter pledging support for the missing $75 million in funding for the KeyArena renovation. No special session is called, but the letter is provided to the city, which in turn talks to the Group of Four who have offered to purchase the team.
5. Stern sits Bennett down, tells him he must sell, with the promise of the Memphis Grizzlies or New Orleans Hornets in the future for Oklahoma City.
6. Bennett and the Group of Four enter into negotiations to sell the team. After prolonged debate, Bennett sells the team and hightails it back to Oklahoma City, no longer the savior he once made himself out to be. His wife reduces his allowance and Clay is forced to deliver newspapers on weekends to make up the difference.
And, somewhere, Howard Schultz breathes a great, big sigh of relief.