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Cornett says OKC has no role in determining Sonics' future

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: October 31, 2007 at 1:43 am •  Published: October 31, 2007
On the eve of the day in which owners of the Seattle Sonics could take the first step in relocating to Oklahoma City, Mayor Mick Cornett said the city doesn't have any role in determining the future location of the franchise.

Today marks Sonics chairman Clay Bennett's self-imposed deadline for reaching a new arena agreement in Washington before he intends to apply with the NBA to relocate to Oklahoma City. No viable arena plan that includes funding has emerged, but the team is currently involved in a federal court case with the city of Seattle to determine whether it can escape the final two years of its arena contract.

Although Bennett said last month that he will not file his application Thursday to avoid overshadowing his team's home opener, it could only be a matter of days before he begins the relocation process.

A statement released Tuesday by Dan Mahoney, a spokesman for the ownership group, said Bennett "will have further comment on the organization's next steps” on Friday.

Cornett, however, remains cautious not to overstep his boundaries by pursuing the team and plans on waiting for confirmation from the NBA's offices in New York before acting. Even then, Cornett said he would be careful not to act inappropriately.

"I don't necessarily know, not having been through that process before, about what would be appropriate and what would not be,” said Cornett, who guards against even mentioning the Sonics directly. "Once the league tells me that a team has filed for relocation, I think I would ask them, ‘What are the appropriate steps now for a city to take with regard to that ownership group?' ”

Cornett said there has been no communication between the city and the Sonics' Oklahoma-based ownership group in the days leading up to today's deadline. Cornett added that there also has not been any contact between him and the league office regarding the matter.

Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, however, downplayed the significance of today's deadline.

"It doesn't mean anything to us,” Carr said.

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