The NBA appears more determined than ever to return a franchise to Seattle, multiple league sources have indicated to Amico Hoops.
“It’s a big priority,” said one team owner.
The possibility of Seattle landing a franchise seemed to increase with Tuesday’s news that a group fronted by Chris Hansen would foot the entire bill for a new arena.
“In the five years since we began working with the City and the County on the Arena funding package the economic landscape has changed,” the group wrote in a letter to the Seattle mayor’s office.
“The recession is behind us and we are deep into this new economic cycle. Interest rates have declined and the NBA has completed its new national television contract, creating more financial certainty in the industry.”
Hansen is a hedge fund manager who agreed to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle in 2013. The move was blocked in a 22-8 vote by the league’s board of governors.
The SuperSonics played in Seattle from 1967-2008 before relocating to Oklahoma City and becoming the Thunder. The Sonics won a championship in 1979.
Former Sonics forward and general manager Wally Walker is a member of Hansen’s investment team, as are department store moguls Pete and Erik Nordstrom.
Seattle has retained the SuperSonics nickname and green, gold and white color scheme. Current NBA players Jamal Crawford, Spencer Hawes and Isaiah Thomas have been open in campaigning for the franchise to return.
The owner and other sources who spoke to Amico Hoops asked to remain anonymous for reasons not given. None could specify whether the NBA would consider expansion or relocating an existing team to Seattle.
“I don’t think it’s been thought out that far along yet,” one source told Amico Hoops.