There was a recent rumor, which I believe to be false indicating that our Sonics ownership group had been offered an expansion team in 2014 and was fighting that one year delay. Other expansion speculation has always centered upon the team returning for the 2015 season and relocation alternatives other than the Sacramento Kings would all be for seasons even further in the future.
A delay until 2014 will result in a 6 year absence of Sonics basketball, while waiting until the 2015/16 season will be a full 7 years since the Sonics departure in 2008. To put this in perspective my children are currently 12 and 10 years old. In 2005, the last truly "relocation free" season with the Soncs they were 5 and 3.
When I go to practice for my son's Seattle Parks & Rec team there are several kids who wear Kevin Durant jersey's, shoes and other gear. The combination of Durant and Russell Westbrook has made the Oklahoma City Thunder one of the most popular teams with young people, and to put it simply they value KD's amazing talent more than they value the legacy and lessons of what has been stolen from us. The memories of the Sonics and the terrible departure are too distant to resonate strongly and are shrugged off by that generation. When I describe the Sonics to my kids they mostly think of relocation and have little recollection of the really carefree times watching games on my lap or going to sit in the family seats with $10/tickets. They tell me they love the Sonics but that is only because they love me, not because of any enduring bond with the franchise..
I can envision the Sonics departure being delayed a year with little consequence. That year could be filled with anticipation and events, staged by Hansen to get people excited.
If however relocation is denied I believe that my kids and their generations will simply have too long without the Sonics to really feel any sense of history or ownership of the team.
Whether that wait is 2 years with a promise of relocation or it is 5 years of uncertainty I believe that the long term perception of the team will be altered forever if there is a substantial delay instead of this seasons immediate return. My generation will have failed to get them returned in time to create memories of enjoying the team with our kids while they are young. My son and I will never really have father/son shared basketball experiences at a time when they are most meaningful. When a franchise does eventually return their generation will see it as something new and perhaps interesting, but not historic or part of their civic and family heritage.
One of the things I am most grateful for is that Chris Hansen has attempted to do this in a time frame that will greatly impact my relationship with my kids. While I would be thrilled with an expansion option that satisfied both cities I do not expect it to happen. If it were to happen my hope is that it does so in a way that recognizes the immediate need and opportunity in front of us rather sacrificing an entire generation of Seattle fans by creating a drawn out process.
We have a lot at stake here. I want to share this with my kids. I will not be satisfied with a solution that returns the team too late for me and my family.