By Darnell Mayberry
The court battle between the city of Seattle and the Sonics has been scheduled to go to trial in June, a halfway point between the parties’ preferences which was settled on by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman today.
Pechman set a trial date of June 16 during a 10 a.m. scheduling conference in a Washington court that brought together attorneys from both sides. Pechman also issued a trial calendar which contains every pertinent date and deadline leading up to the trial.
Attorneys for the Sonics had requested a March 24 trial date, the earliest possible date that likely would have concluded the case in time for the Sonics to relocate to Oklahoma City for the start of next season.
The city of Seattle’s legal team sought an Oct. 27 trial date in order to have more time to prepare and present its case. With the 2008-09 NBA season likely starting on or around Halloween, the Sonics would not have been allowed to move in time for next season.
It’s unclear how a June trial will impact a potential relocation by the Sonics, whose Oklahoma-based ownership group submitted relocation paperwork with the NBA in November to move to Oklahoma.
The NBA typically works on the league-wide schedule from the end of February through its announcement in August, so the league would need to know where the Sonics will be based.
The NBA board of governors is also scheduled to vote on the move in April at league meetings in New York. But 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.