Here’s a link to an interesting piece in today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer by columnist Art Thiel, who suggests that the Hornets could end up back in OKC after Clay Bennett sells the Sonics to Seattle businessmen and buys the Bees from George Shinn.
About the Hornets, he writes, “Nevertheless, the franchise may well be in play, creating two possibilities in Seattle:
- A Seattle ownership purchases the Hornets for a move, or
- More likely, StudentSonics owner Clay Bennett no longer tolerates losses in the wallet as well the courts of law and basketball. He sells to a local ownership group, taking his proceeds to buy the Hornets for less than the $350 million paid for the Sonics in 2006 and move them to his Oklahoma City hometown (Shinn and Bennett could be forgiven the relocation fee). “
Thiel points to the renegotiated lease in New Orleans, which includes an opt out clause if the team fails to average 14,735 from Dec. 1, 2007 through the end of next season.
Regarding the above scenario, he goes on to say, “But the movers and shakers in Seattle, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and New York know the path is there. The escape clause wouldn’t have been created and accepted if the need for an out wasn’t dramatic.
The NBA legitimately can say that it tried in New Orleans. It also wants to stay in Seattle, and wants to reward Bennett and Oklahoma City (not Shinn) for being good NBA citizens after Katrina.”
There is also this story on the Sonics situation from the New York Times, more of a general overview of the battle in Seattle.