The Pacific Northwest shakeout
Brian Berger of Sports Business Radio passes on this possible scenario:
- [The] Blazers and the Rose Garden will be sold to Hollywood Video founder Mark Wattles. Wattles was born and raised in Portland and if at all possible, the NBA would like to see the team purchased by an owner with local ties.
- Seattle will move to OK City at the start of the 2007-08 season.
- Paul Allen will purchase the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn and move them to Seattle. This makes sense for a number of reasons, including the fact that Shinn does not want to return to New Orleans and NBA basketball does not make sense in that market. Ticket prices are way too high and people there are just trying to get back on their feet. NBA basketball is not a winning proposition in New Orleans, no matter how much the NBA would like to see a team succeed there. The other thing the Hornets move to Seattle accomplishes, is it returns the NBA to a long-time NBA city. David Stern has a track record of returning a team to cities that have lost a franchise the NBA returned to Charlotte after only 2 years . . . and he'll reward OK City with the Sonics once the Hornets deal with OK City expires at the end of this season. Then he can move the Hornets to Seattle. As my high level source told me [Wednesday], Stern would be choosing the "lesser of two evils" by having Paul Allen own the Hornets instead of George Shinn. Plus, Allen has tremendous clout in Seattle with government officials, the fans and corporate sponsors. His Seahawks have been very successful and there is no reason to think that he wouldn't be successful with an NBA team in Seattle. And by the way, he has a nice parcel of land to build a new arena right next to Qwest Field.
This seems as plausible as anything else I've heard lately, and they could finish it off nicely by having Paul Allen and Clay Bennett swap their properties, or at least the names of those properties, leaving the Sonics in Seattle, the Hornets in Oklahoma City, and George Shinn looking for a day job. I'm not quite so convinced that the NBA is a losing proposition in New Orleans, but I'm not the guy who crunches the numbers either.
Posted at 1:31 AM to Net Proceeds