Though admitting a planned move to Brooklyn makes more sense for the New Jersey Nets than say, being sold to a Seattle ownership group, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reminds us that with questions surrounding the Barclays Arena construction and a national economic crisis, Bruce Ratner (above, left) might just as well opt to sell the team. “Groundbreaking has now been pushed to sometime this year, which would make 2011-12 the earliest possible debut for the Brooklyn Nets,” scoffs Berger. “Forgive me if I’m in believe-it-when-I-see-it mode.”
The Seattle Nets? Well, no, any team going to Seattle would have to keep the SuperSonics name, colors and history. Besides the utter disappointment that would ensue if the Brooklyn project failed — not to mention the lost revenue associated with killing a big-market team — I can’t believe nobody has thought of this.
If lawmakers in Washington go ahead with the KeyArena funding, Seattle could have its choice of teams in the next several years. Memphis and Charlotte both have attendance issues and opt-out clauses in their arena leases, though the penalties for moving are reportedly in the $100 million range for each. Most people assume the Maloof brothers would move only to Las Vegas if they ever left Sacramento, but a person involved in the process of bringing a team back to Seattle said some key politicians are holding out hope that the Kings could be had.
The Nets? Nobody mentions them. But if Brooklyn never happens, the Nets would have the clearest path to Seattle of any existing NBA team. All it would require is for them to be sold to Ballmer and his ownership group, which sources believe would easily pass muster with Stern and the NBA team owners. It is expected that Ballmer’s group would reaffirm its $150 million commitment toward the KeyArena renovation as long as the state funding is approved and a team is available.
Many owners would staunchly oppose moving the Nets before a small-market team like Charlotte or Memphis, but I know one member of the Board of Governors who doesn’t care which team goes to Seattle: Bennett, who stands to save $30 million no matter which team it is. For Seattle fans sensitive to hijacking someone else’s team, the Nets would be a guilt-free option. No strings attached, no $100 million lease-breaking fees to be paid.