Archive for May, 2007

Buh-Bye Sonics

May 30, 2007

Well, there goes any optimism I once had. I’m starting to think this isn’t just hard-line talking anymore, and that he really does want to take them to OKC. How can you read this and not think anything else? At least we won’t have Squatch to kick around anymore. Boy, can you just imagine the buzz-kill when the 10/31 deadline passes, there is no arena deal, and Bennett can’t contain his glee that he will be moving the team, yet meanwhile Kevin Durant battles Greg Oden in the season opener (if you haven’t checked, Seattle and Portland play each other in the first game of 2007). Yeah, that’s going to pretty much SUCK. A lame duck season is one of the ugliest things in sports, and the bandwagon city will abandon ship so fast it’ll be shocking. And also sad to only get a glimpse of the young Durant before he’s on his way out.

I never thought I’d say this – GO BLAZERS.

I Could Get Used to This

May 24, 2007

Looks good to me! But here’s the thing – can the Sonics lose in this position? All they have to do is sit back and take whoever is there after Portland makes their pick. Whether Durant fits a Portland need better, and there are rumblings already that Durant might be their guy when it’s all said and done, their GM already quoted as saying you need to be able to run in the west, etc, either the Sonics get the best small-forward prospect since, well, who knows, OR they get the best big-man prospect since Shaq or Duncan! Even they can’t blow it….can they?

I still think this is the best thing that could have happened in order to create a buzz in keeping the team around. They needed this luck more than any other franchise, and luckily the ping-pong balls did their thing. I am holding out hope that the 11th hour produces a deal, and the rumors are already out there that people with a lot of money want to keep the team here, and are interested in the arena deal or even buying the team altogether. I really think Durant could have the trickle-down that they need so badly around here.

And how great is it that the NW gets Oden AND Durant?!? I love all the whining from the east already complaining about not being able to see these two guys until late at night, ESPN’s Outside The Lines doing a feature on how unfair the lottery is, etc. Does anyone think Outside The Lines would do a story like that if Boston and Memphis would have gotten the first two picks?!?! OF COURSE NOT. ESPN’s suck-fest with all things east is sickening. And where was the outrage last year when Portland, who DID HAVE THE WORST RECORD last year, got the 4th pick? You didn’t hear a sound about it. So stop whining Jerry West. Sure, you’re the logo and all that, but this is the system in place to keep your punk-ass teams from tanking it.

Finally, tough couple of days for WSU or what? Secondary coach and respected WSU alum Ken Greene gets canned for inappropriate conduct, the details still yet to be known; a likely backup and 3rd down back in Hutsona in the backfield and probably Patterson in the secondary are both gone, with strong rumors floating that more are on the way; oh yeah, June Daugherty collapses on her way to a physical, suffering a heart attack. Thank God she’s going to be ok. DOES THE FUN EVER START!?!?

Former Local Owner the "White Knight" to Save Sonics?

May 19, 2007

There might be a savior in the Seattle area after all for the Sonics. The TNT is running this today, and the initial reaction is it sure makes a hell of a lot of sense. breaks it down as well, a pretty solid take on the whole thing and they are hearing rumors as well.

You know, we touched on it the other day, about the mounting costs that Bennett faces in trying to move, both short-term and long-term. But Frank Hughes brought up one more angle I hadn’t thought of – the team ALSO stands to lose $20 million annually just being in Seattle with the way things are right now. So, yeah, sprinkle in another $40 million in losses, on top of what’s already documented.

With such a mess on his hands, isn’t it the best move for Bennett at this point to just cut his losses and forget the whole thing?

Breaking news – Superman RETIRES

May 18, 2007

Say it ain’t so!

Robert Horry Used to be Pretty Good

May 17, 2007

First of all, I always respected Big Shot Bob. I can’t even remember all the big shots he’s hit in his career. Wikipedia has a pretty good rundown, and it’s really pretty remarkable. But you can’t forget that he’s also a bit of a thug after his latest screw-up.

1) While a member of the Rockets, Horry fell into the Sonics bench, where a 65-year old Bob Kloppenberg tried to help him up. Horry threw Kloppy to the ground as he tried to get back into the game (remember that?). I wish I had a picture or video of it, but it was a thuggish thing to do.
2) Remember the towel in the face of Danny Ainge? Major thug move and completely disrespectful of his coach.
I guess I prefer to remember Horry from this video, where it’s clear how he got the Big Shot Bob nickname:

What an Unbelievable Mess

May 13, 2007

Frank Hughes hits a home run today with a scathing story about the mess that is the Sonics these days. Everything from lies, anger, betrayal and back-stabbing, all in one huge mess of a franchise.

What struck me the most? Lenny Wilkins spending half of a 90-minute meeting questioning the logic of drafting Sene last year with their lottery pick. Why does that strike me? Because that’s exactly what Lenny said to me last summer at that charity dinner! We spoke for 15 minutes, but that was one of the first things he said, what the heck were they thinking about drafting another 7-foot project this year? He was very clear and emphatic that he thought it was a terrible move, and you can see that he’s still carrying that around.

What a rudderless ship. Please, please, PLEASE, just go ahead and move. Pack up this franchise, this mess of an organization that you grossly overpaid for, and move it back to OKC. Let the region realize how much it misses the NBA as time goes by, and a better building will happen and/or the Key will be renovated, and the Sonics we love so much will be back. But not this group. At this point, I don’t even know if I want to support Bennett in any way, shape or form, and if that means losing the franchise? So be it. Show a little respect by leaving the team logo and history behind, but please, just go away.

WSU Names Captains, Also Sign Two Recruits

May 10, 2007

In a move lacking little suspense, the Cougars named their four captains for the 2007 season. Senior QB Alex Brink, senior WR Michael Bumpus, senior safety Husain Abdullah and junior linebacker Greg Trent all won out in the vote by the team. Brink is the only repeat captain from last year’s group, which also consisted of seniors Scott Davis, Mkristo Bruce and Jason Hill.

Meanwhile, WSU actually signed a couple of players yesterday who will be eligible to play this fall as late additions to the 2007 recruiting class. And it appears the Texas pipeline has paid off again, as both players hail from Blinn Community College in Brenham, TX.. Defensive Back Alonzo Jackson and linebacker Ken Dunn both signed with WSU yesterday, and are both slated to be on the field in one form or another for 2007.

Both players were part of an excellent defense that helped lead Blinn to a 12-0 record and the 2006 NJCAA National Championship. The defense surrendered a ridiculous 129 yards per game, by far #1 in the nation, including just 39 rushing yards allowed per game.

Overall both players are likely destined for special teams duty, although one would bet that Jackson has a better shot of playing in the secondary, as the depth back there is extremely thin. The WSU linebackers appear to be the strongest part of the defense at this point, so Dunn appears to be a long-shot to get much action outside of punt and kickoff teams.

Cougs in HD next fall

May 2, 2007

Brink gets one more chance at USC, and it’ll be the prime-time ABC game. That will be, uh, interesting. USC gets major ABC night-game love this year, with 5 games. Glad to see the Beavs-Trojans will be one of them. I’m big on the Beavers’ chances next year, as in 2nd-place in the Pac-10 big, so that could be a good one.

Also interesting to see USC at UW as one of the prime-time games. That’s a late-September game, when classes will be starting up at the U so the students will be ready. Locker will have 4 games under his belt by then, but that USC defense next year!?!? OH MY GOD. Hide the women and children.

Meanwhile, I found this while checking up on the Sonics. Seems that Bennett might have a lot tougher go of it if he really is hell-bent on moving the team. As in, $500-million hell-bent.

“Here’s the deal from insiders, right now – Bennett knows that Oklahoma City is too small to be a viable alternative to Seattle, and wants to keep his options open, if for no other reason than to maintain a credible move threat to keep Washington state legislators antsy about losing their team. Stern, meanwhile, while not wanting to undercut Bennett’s leverage, has his own agenda: He doesn’t want Vegas to think that it can get an NBA team without banning betting on pro basketball games, which is a deal-breaker for the commish. So we get this careful dance, where Bennett is able to drop Las Vegas’ name as a possible relocation site, so long as he doesn’t anoint it the frontrunner. Check out Bennett’s latest statement on Friday, where he completely back-peddled on Vegas after he was chewed out by Stern.

Stern is making it clear now – Bennett isn’t to use the Vegas name anymore. So Bennett’s options will dwindle down to OKC and maybe KC, but that’s really it. Anaheim has been discussed, but the reality is the LA market already has two NBA franchises, plus the bay area market has Golden State and the middle-state market has Sacramento. It’s doubtful the NBA board of governors would feel the need to have five franchises in the state of California, including three in the OC.

Then you consider the true out-of-pocket expenses that a move like this is going to cost. I mean isn’t it always about money?

First there is the buyout of the Key Arena lease, which is iron-clad through the end of the 2010 season. If Bennett really wants to leave after 2008? The threats are already out there that he is going to have to pay dearly for the missing city revenues over 41 nights per year, but also the actual costs of using the building that they would have given the city and county. Oh yeah, can’t forget that there is over $50 million in debt STILL outstanding from when Key Arena was revamped, and the Sonics organization is going to be responsible for a huge chunk of that. And then there is the NBA relocation fee, which some speculate could start – and by start, we’re talking the minimum number to even consider it – at $50 million, cash, to be paid to the league.

SO, quick math:
$350 million spent on the purchase of the team last year, a team appraised at about $220 million from Forbes. Immediately a huge loss there if he were to sell the team.
Plus another $10 million at least in site studies, arena plans, etc for Bellevue and Renton.
$50 million in Key Arena debt that they will absolutely hold them to.
Then let’s speculate and say, oh, $25 million in “various penalties” for breaking the lease early, based on many things, including lost tax dollars that city and county would lose out on from not having 17K show up in Queen Anne for 41 nights a year during the dreariest months of the year (Nov – Apr).
Now take the Key Arena rent the Sonics would pay for the 82 lost dates, total, from the ’09 and ’10 seasons. Finally, throw in another $50 million – to even get into the discussion – in NBA relocation fees.

What do you get? That’s nearly half-a-BILLION dollars. Yes, Billion, with a big, fat B.

Once you get past that number, now here’s where it REALLY doesn’t make any sense.

To move an NBA team is difficult, and not something the commish or board of governors wants. Don’t forget, Bennett might want to ride in and be king of OKC, but the NBA owners will have the final say. Stern usually gets what he wants, but the league benefits from being in Seattle and, if Stern keeps pushing his globalization plan of the NBA, Seattle has obviously strong ties to the far east.

So ask yourself this – Will the NBA owners overwhelmingly approve this thing? Do they want to give up the 12th media market in America for the 47th, just to placate Bennett’s ego as he tries to become the ultimate civic hero? Does it make any business sense for, say, Paul Allen to approve it, losing Portland’s northwest rival? Or even the Lakers, Kings, or other teams out west that travel to Seattle, where there are Lakers, Kings, and other western conference fans, fans that spend money on merchandise, etc? It’s not just losing the NBA for Sonics fans, it’s losing the NBA for NBA fans, something that you just can’t undersell enough. It really does hurt the league to lose a top-12 market, end of discussion. Doesn’t keeping the NBA in the Seattle market make about 1,000 times more sense than trying to justify trading it in for OKC?

The same OKC that is 1/3rd the size of Seattle in every way imaginable. Population, media market size, college-educated, number of millionaires (68,000 millionaires in King County was the number released today, ranked in the top-10 in America). Of course, all those things matter in the kinds of prices the organization can charge for the all-important advertising revenues, luxury suites and premium seat sections, and no matter how much the Sonics would be embraced in OKC, there is no chance that Bennett could get the same kinds of revenue streams over the long haul in OKC vs. the franchise remaining in Seattle. And that’s even if the team were to stay in Key Arena, even with a modest remodel plan of $180 – $200 million.


Then factor in the Sonics’ history in the sport. One of only 8 NBA franchises to be in the league for at least 40 years in the same city. There is something to be said about that kind of history. Does the NBA truly want to just see that disappear? Then, to not only abandon a northwest “hub” of a city that is cosmopolitan in every way, but to move it to a city that has an arena that was built on the cheap? An arena in OKC that Bennett has already gone on the record as saying it isn’t sufficient as a long-term solution for the NBA!?!

You know what? CALL HIS BLUFF. If he really wants to move the team, he will have to pay beyond his wildest dreams, and stands to lose millions upon millions in the years after the team has moved. You think it’s hard to attract free agents to teams like Seattle? Good luck trying to sell the 47th biggest market in the dustbowl of America.

I predict he won’t move the team. Period. The financial loss is too great, and the NBA isn’t this dumb. I’ll go as far as to say that one of two things will happen. 1) He’ll take it to the end, realize he’ll never get his arena dream. The city and county will come up with a fair deal to renovate Key Arena, and Bennett will have to kick in some of the costs, but the Key will take a step forward and be a good business situation. 2) Bennett will say the hell with it, 100% stuck between a rock and a hard place, realize he can’t win by moving the team, and put it up for sale, taking a pretty big loss as he retreats to OKC with his tail between his legs (wait, he never comes to Seattle anyway, so he’d have his tail between his legs from his OKC office).

And if he, and the NBA, is stupid enough to let him move this team? As long as he leaves the name, colors and logo, so be it. Another billionaire will see the light, the tremendous market with a ton of NBA history and the list could be long for those interested in bringing the NBA back to Seattle. And someday, the NBA will return. But bottom line, if this guy moves the team to OKC just because he’s from there, well, he’s a CLASS-A MORON with an ego who I don’t want as the owner of MY SONICS anyway! Good RIDDANCE.