Kudos to this OKC writer who puts together an editorial that I would describe as extremely responsible. He gets it and I'm not sure that Clay Bennett does.
One thing I became convinced of very early in this process is that Oklahoma City will be awarded an NBA franchise at some point. Whether it is the Sonics, the Hornets, or an expansion team the city has paid its dues and performed a great service to the league with the Hornets. There should never be a feeling that this situation is Seattle VS Oklahoma City because that is not the case.
The big question for Seattle fans is how does OKC go about their business in trying to land a franchise? Will they take the high road and wait their turn? Is Clay Bennett willing to withstand the attacks he will suffer if he tries to take the team? How will the NBA respond to an owner trying to litigate his way out of a binding lease? These questions, and several others will determine the fate of the Sonics.
Based on recent commentary it seems as if the prospect of Oklahoma City paying legal fees or offsetting relocation costs may be falling off the table. The Mayor of OKC must understand that, at this point any move of the Sonics to his city will be perhaps the most heavily scrutinized franchise relocation in history. The buzzards will be circling waiting for any indication whatsoever of a collaboration to "steal" the teams on the part of Bennett, his hometown, or the league as a whole. Every dime paid to Bennett will be subject to the national media and at the first glimpse of conspiracy this issue is likely to wind up in federal court. From this point every party has to be cautious that their public statements do not wind up leading to perjury in the future.
As the writer of this piece states it would be foolish to assume that no conversations have taken place. How can Bennett maintain any credibility at all if he files for relocation to a city after supposedly having no official conversations at all? However both Bennett and OKC Mayor Mike Cornett may have to re-think some of the "Unofficial" dialogue they have been having. In all likelihood Cornett will need to approach Bennett at some point soon and say "You know, a lot of that conversation we had was very hypothetical...". He may go further and add "This whole thing would have been a lot easier if you'd just kept your damn mouth shut!" but that is besides the point.
I think at this point the question of the day is whether Bennett will have the conviction to stand by his threat and file for relocation on Nov. 1. He has been late to virtually every other promised deadline since this adventure began and would suprise nobody if he was unable to deliver yet again. Certainly he could come up with some laughable face-saving rhetoric about how he needed more time, wanting to give Seattle one more chance, blah, blah, blah but to hold back after being so bold and aggressive in his commentary would simply be one more demonstration of the ineptitude that has market his tenure as a professional sports owner.