By Darnell Mayberry
The Seattle SuperSonics on Tuesday could move a step closer to learning what city they’ll call home next season.
Attorneys for the Sonics and the city of Seattle are scheduled to appear in a Washington state federal court at noon Central time before U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman, who has ordered a scheduling conference, according to court records.
During the estimated one-hour conference, Pechman could set a trial date for the case, a significant step which would go a long way in determining whether the Sonics can relocate to Oklahoma City next season or must play in Seattle next year while the litigation plays out. An assistant to Pechman declined to comment on today’s agenda.
Attorneys for the Sonics, however, have requested a March 24 trial date, which likely would be concluded in time for the Sonics to relocate for the start of next season. The city of Seattle’s legal team seeks an Oct. 27 trial date in order to have more time to prepare and present its case.
An Oct. 27 date would mean the trial would begin just days before the start of the 2008-09 NBA season, effectively preventing the team from relocating.
The Oklahoma-based ownership group of the Sonics is attempting to escape the final two years of their current KeyArena contract by fulfilling the remaining financial obligations. Seattle officials have declined a buyout and hope to bind the team to its contract and make the Sonics play in Seattle until the contract’s expiration in 2010.