Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, however, downplayed the significance of today's deadline.
"It doesn't mean anything to us,” Carr said. "That's their thing, not ours. We intend to hold them to their lease. They're going to be in Seattle until at least September of 2010 if we can (win in) court. The deadline was one imposed by Mr. Bennett. We've tried to talk to him in good faith, and he's refused to return our phone calls.
"We have offered to negotiate with Mr. Bennett, but he isn't interested. He actually blew off my mayor, who offered him $100 million, which is beyond insulting.”
Carr added that the city likely would ask the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the Sonics to prevent a move if Bennett does file for relocation.
Carr also said he doesn't see anything that could end the litigation process and bring forth a resolution, saying the two sides reached "the point of no return back in September when Mr. Bennett filed to get out of his lease.”
"Mr. Bennett coming to his senses would help,” Carr said. "But he's determined to move that team.”
The NBA has a systemic process for any of its franchises looking to relocate, which starts with NBA Commissioner David Stern appointing a relocation committee of no less than five governors within 10 days of receiving the application.
Stern has 120 days from the date he receives the application to make a recommendation to the appointed board. The board, which determines the relocation fee, will then vote on the move no sooner than seven days and no later than 30 days after the recommendation is made. A simple majority vote is needed to allow a franchise to relocate.