You may want to pretend like this has nothing to do with the Thunder, but it does. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Maloofs are nearing a deal to sell the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. Which of course means the Kings are moving to Seattle, most likely to begin next season.
The Seattle group led by Hansen has jumped all necessary hurdles, the biggest one getting an arena deal approved. That isn’t set to be finished for a few years so reportedly the plan would be for the team to play in Key Arena for a couple seasons, which was deemed unfit to house an NBA team by the league five years ago.
I know what you’re asking: What does this mean for the Thunder?
Here’s what the settlement between Clay Bennett and the city of Seattle looked like:
- The Thunder have a “shared” history with Seattle. Records and championships are used by the Thunder, but can also be used by Seattle once a new team goes there. So how that actually plays out will be pretty interesting. The Thunder own the 1979 title, but if I understand the settlement right, the new Sonics could claim it as well.
- All the physical trophies, banners and retired jerseys stayed in Seattle and were stored in a museum/Key Arena. The Thunder were said to be allowed to “borrow” them to put on display periodically though and make copies.
- Bennett owns the SuperSonics logo and name, but obviously didn’t use them when the team moved to OKC. But under the agreement, if a new team moved back to Seattle, Bennett would turn the logo and name over to the new owner, under no contest and under approval by the league.
- The settlement included a stipulation that Bennett would pay $30 million to Seattle if the state approved funding for an new arena by Seattle doesn’t get a new franchise within five years. That approval for a new arena had to be done by 2009 though. And it didn’t happen, so that expired.
- One thing the city of Seattle does not retain the rights to per the settlement is Kevin Durant, and for that, I am very thankful.
- Lots asked if the Thunder would be moved divisions: That’s up to the league. Division realignment makes sense, but it’s not like an automatic thing.
- My personal opinion of what happens for OKC: I would think the Thunder would move to try and distance themselves even more from Seattle, and would likely start treating the organization as more of an expansion than anything else. At least that’s what I’d do.
- Also: I’d advise avoiding any gloating or finger-pointing at Seattle people. Yes, things definitely have a hypocritical tint to them right now, but these wheels were very obviously set in motion by Bennett and his group relocating the team to OKC. Seattle needed a new team because theirs moved to Oklahoma City.
- Also that said: As has been my position all along, teams relocate. It happens. If the Sonics didn’t move to OKC, they probably were going to move somewhere else. Same goes for the Kings, who were within an eyelash of moving to Anaheim last season. It’s part of the professional sports business.
- I’d also resist using the word “steal” when talking about all of this. That’s always bugged me. You can’t steal something that you own. Bennett owned the Sonics. It was his business and he could do with it as he pleased, under all legal boundaries. Which he did. And if the Hansen-Ballmer group finishes this off, they own the Kings and can do what they want.
- What do all you converted Sonic-to-Thunder fans do? I don’t know, but we’d sure love to have you onboard still.
- Personally, I’m extremely happy for the city of Seattle. That’s a great NBA city and one that absolutely deserves a franchise. I always hated the circumstances that they lost the Sonics, but selfishly, I’m super happy it happened. But great for them and I look forward to a future bloodbath Sonics-Thunder rivalry.