The court likely will rule in favor of Seattle, that the Sonics must fulfill the lease with their presence, not with a cash payout.
Without court approval, Bennett and Co. must negotiate their way out of the lease if they want to leave before summer 2010. Both sides have strong bargaining chips. The Sonics will hemorrhage money as a lameduck team; but the Sonics also can offer to leave the team's name and history behind, if allowed to move.
Both sides have much to gain and much to lose.
•NBA withholds approval:
To move, the Sonics need approval from a majority of a relocation committee, made up of owners appointed by commissioner David Stern.
The owners generally follow the lead of commissioner David Stern, who seems firmly in Bennett's corner, with critical remarks both a couple of years ago and recently that Seattle has not produced a viable arena plan.