Thursday, April 19, 2007

OKC Keeping An Eye On Sonics

The Seattle SuperSonics ended their season Wednesday night with a 31 point loss to the Dallas Mavericks and could have very well ended a forty year stretch of NBA basketball in Seattle, Washington.

On Monday legislative leaders, in the state of Washington, decided not to consider the plan for a new arena in suburban Renton during the regular session, which is due to end by this coming Sunday, saying it lacks enough support to pass.

Washington Governor is not willing to call lawmakers into special session so the team can continue to push for taxpayer money for a new $500 million arena. It appears that no one really cares about basketball in Seattle anymore, not even the fans. A “save the Sonics” rally was held this week in Seattle and only about 50 fans showed up to voice their support.

It’s an obvious truth, the Sonics are done in Seattle and now the question is not only where they are moving to but when? The obvious choice as to where they move to would be Oklahoma City. Team majority owner Clay Bennett is not only from Oklahoma City but he also has expressed an interest in getting an NBA franchise to the Sooner state. He was instrumental in getting the New Orleans Hornets to Oklahoma City where the city showed that it was ready to step into the big leagues of professional sports on a full-time basis.

As far as when the Sonics will be moving, don’t count on them being in Seattle for the 2007-08 basketball season. Bennett has been vocal about his disappointment over the lack of interest in funding a new arena deal in the Seattle area. He wasn’t even present for the season’s final game Wednesday night. Instead he is in New York “soliciting private funds for his new arena” which is actually code for meeting with the NBA’s Board of Governors Thursday and Friday about getting his team out of Seattle as quickly as possible.

The question is the board to answer is why leave a “lame duck” team in Seattle one last season for them to die when you can give them immediate new life in Oklahoma City with an announcement that they are allowing Bennett to move his team even though he didn’t fill out the relocation paper work by the March 1 deadline.

Even before the decision to move there are some other significant decisions for the Sonics to make. The decision to retain head coach Bob Hill and general manager Rick Sund or to cut them loose could be made as early as this weekend. The decision as to what will happen with Rashard Lewis could be made soon as well. Then there is the NBA draft in June.

Seattle may have given up on the Sonics but fans in Oklahoma City are taking notice and paying close attention.