The Seattle SuperSonics have a realistic chance of relocating to Oklahoma City next season thanks to a mid-June trial date scheduled Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman in the court case between the team and the city of Seattle. Pechman ordered a six-day trail to begin June 16 on Tuesday morning during a scheduling conference between the two parties in a Washington court. The date is a halfway point between the requested trial dates sought by the two sides. At the heart of the legal dispute is the question of whether the Oklahoma-based ownership group of the Sonics should be allowed to buy out the remaining two years of their arena contact and leave Seattle or can only fulfill the use agreement by playing in KeyArena until 2010. Sonics chairman Clay Bennett formally applied with the NBA in November to move the franchise to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season. After Tuesday's ruling, that goal appears alive. That wouldn't be the case if the city of Seattle's legal team was granted an Oct. 27 trial date as it requested, arguing for more time to prepare and present its case. With the 2008-09 NBA season likely starting on or around Halloween, and the NBA preseason beginning in early October, it would have been nearly impossible for the Sonics to move in time for next season. Attorneys for the Sonics, on the other hand, had requested a March 24 trial date, which likely would have enabled the case's conclusion in time for the Sonics to relocate to Oklahoma City for the start of next season. Pechman, however, scoffed at both the city of Seattle's request for such a distant start date and the Sonics' request to begin trial so soon despite the team's arguments of the timeliness involved in the NBA's scheduling process. The NBA typically compiles the league-wide schedule from the end of February through its announcement in August, attempting to provide teams the most sensible road trips and back-to-back games according to location. "We respect and appreciate the judge's decision,” said Sonics attorney Brad Keller in a statement. "We will be fully prepared to present our case on June 16.” Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but a spokeswoman for Carr referred to the June 16 trial date as a "compromise” that is satisfactory. With the trial scheduled for completion June 22, Pechman could make an immediate ruling or take up to a few weeks to decide the outcome. Either way, a decision likely would be known sometime by July. Both sides, however, would have the opportunity to appeal the ruling, which would further delay the franchise's relocation plans. The NBA board of governors is scheduled to vote on the move in April at league meetings in New York. Although the city of Seattle, according to legal documents, has threatened to add the NBA to its current suit against the Sonics if a move is approved before the court case is determined, the NBA will carry out the relocation process as outlined in its bylaws. "The relocation committee will proceed with its deliberations and will make a recommendation to the Board of Governors when it meets in April,” said NBA spokesman Tim Frank. "If the board votes to approve the relocation, that approval will, of course, be subject to a legal determination that the team is free to relocate.” If the Sonics receive a favorable ruling in July, and no appeals are made, that likely would leave the franchise enough time to relocate in time for next season. The NBA board of governors approved the relocation of the Memphis Grizzlies from Vancouver on July 3, 2001 for the Grizzlies to begin the 2001-02 season in Tennessee. The New Orleans Hornets, the only other NBA franchise to relocate since 1985, received approval from the league on May 10, 2002 to move from Charlotte, N.C. and play the 2002-03 season in Louisiana.